Can You Be Fired for Using Medical Marijuana in Missouri?

Kimberly2 1Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

In Missouri, qualifying patients now have a constitutional right to use and possess medicinal cannabis. But how does that affect drug testing policies in the workplace? We discussed this and more in our recent webinar with fellow attorney, Annie Dupree. Here’s our rundown of employment law and Missouri’s new medical marijuana legislation. (To learn more about issues related to medical marijuana, check out our recent webinar).

Currently, there are no tests in existence that can determine whether someone is impaired by marijuana.This is important because medical marijuana patients may go home and use cannabis for their medical condition, then go to work the next day and test positive on a standard drug test even though the drug is no longer affecting them.

Further adding to this issue, cannabis metabolizes differently in each person. Many people have a high tolerance — in these cases, they may be able to smoke two or three blunts without being impaired. In fact, many medical marijuana patients with debilitating medical conditions perform better at their job when using appropriate amounts of cannabis. This is why tests are so unreliable —  they tell nothing about an employee’s state of impairment and how the legal, medicinal drug affects them.

This is where the convergence of patients’ rights and employment rights begins. Unfortunately, many people hold jobs that require insurance, and many insurance companies will refuse to cover an employee unless they pass a drug test. As medical marijuana use continues to grow in Missouri, it’s almost certain that patients will be forced to choose between keeping their job or taking their medicine.

The characterization of your job can further complicate this. If your job is overseen by the Department of Transportation, there’s not much you can do if you’re asked to be drug tested since cannabis is still federally illegal. Of course, we do still need to be careful when people are driving, so that puts another wrench in things. If you’re a UPS driver, a police officer, a firefighter, or any other licensed professional, you’re probably out of luck when exploring your rights as a medical marijuana patient.

Ultimately, it’s up to the employee to determine whether their cardholder status is worth any potential risks to their employment status until further legislation is introduced protecting these patients. However, if you feel that your rights as a medical marijuana patient are being violated, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. We can evaluate your unique situation and determine whether you have grounds to take legal action.

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