medical marijuana

Medical Marijuana in the Workplace: What Are Your Rights in Washington?

With the legalization of medical marijuana in Washington state in 1998, many individuals with health ailments in need of relief obtained prescriptions for its use. However, the use of medical marijuana in relation to the workplace, as well as the legality surrounding it, has been a hot topic since legalization. Washington subsequently legalized marijuana for recreational use, which created more confusion regarding marijuana and the workplace. 

Employers Can Prohibit Use in the Workplace

As a whole, the personal use of marijuana in public is prohibited. RCW 69.50.445. Therefore, your employer can prohibit marijuana use at work. 

Employers Can Test For Marijuana Use

Employers may still prohibit marijuana use by employees and may drug test employees to enforce the policy. In addition, marijuana use is still prohibited by federal law and if your employer receives fderal funding, it may be required to drug test employees and prohibit marijuana as an illicit substance. 

What If Medicinal Marijuana is Used Off Site?

At this time, there is no law regarding the use of medicinal marijuana while off site. However, employer policies may prohibit marijuana use entirely and most employers will still discharge or discipline employees that test positive for marijuana use. 

There is No Legal Right to Medicinal Marijuana in the Workplace

In the 2011 case of Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Management, the plaintiff sued a prospective employer when an offer of employment was rescinded as a result of a failed pre-employment drug test. The plaintiff was legally prescribed medicinal marijuana, but he employer had a policy prohibiting marijuana use. The court voted 8 to 1 in favor of the employer,which means that employees will be bound by employment policies prohibiting marijuana use even if the use is for medicinal purposes. 

If you have been prescribed medicinal marijuana and are in a dispute with your employer regarding your legal rights, you should contact a Washington employment attorney, who will assist you in reviewing workplace policies and advise you of your legal rights.