The District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia have all taken steps toward legalizing
marijuana in some form. However, these laws differ in many respects and raise
some interesting questions for employers. Because medical marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law, pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act, courts residing in jurisdictions where the use of medical marijuana is legal have found that an employer may maintain a drug-free workplace and terminate an employee for failing a drug test.
While some states such as Arizona specifically provide protections for employees that have a valid prescription for medical marijuana, neither the District of Columbia, Maryland nor Virginia have such specific protections in their respective statutes. The lingering questions is whether an employer’s decision to take an adverse action against an employee for using medical marijuana is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) or a state’s disability discrimination statute, or under public policy. To date, however, courts have ruled that, absent statutory protections, employers remain free to set their own drug policies and to discipline or terminate employees who violate those policies.
This article details the medical marijuana laws in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, and addresses the current legal landscape regarding an employee’s use of medical marijuana and employment law. Employers should evaluate their current drug policies, and continue to monitor the changing landscape surrounding the use of medical marijuana. As some states do provide specific protections for employee’s use of Continue reading