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Accommodations for medical marijuana use
  • When an employee requests an accommodation for medical marijuana use, employers should consider the request.

An employee who uses medical marijuana may ask an employer to accommodate its use. The employee may ask for an exception to a workplace drug testing or substance abuse policy, for example.

Accommodation considerations in medical marijuana states

In some states, an employer is required to consider whether an accommodation can be provided to an individual who uses medical marijuana. When a worker makes a medical marijuana accommodation request in a state with this requirement, an employer can use the same methods that are used when accommodations are requested by other protected employees. For example, an employer may consider what it typically does when an employee asks for an accommodation for use of a prescription medication. To ensure safety, employers may consider:

  • Moving the employee out of a safety-sensitive position,
  • Using alternative scheduling, or
  • Changing the employee’s duties.

In general, employers should pause before taking a negative action against an employee or job candidate because of off-duty medical marijuana use or a positive drug test for marijuana. State laws should be consulted before proceeding. If an accommodation needs to be considered, employers should treat the accommodation request for medical marijuana use as they would any request for a workplace accommodation.

Accommodation considerations for all employers

Employees do not have protections for medical marijuana use under federal law. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so employers do not need to accommodate it under federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

However, when an employee asks about using medical marijuana, employers should still talk to the employee about other accommodations. The company now knows that the employee has a disability. To comply with the ADA, employers should talk to the employee about other accommodations that could work.