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Can an Employer Fire You for Medical Marijuana in PA?

Got a medical marijuana card and wondering if your job’s on the line in PA? You're not alone. It's a tricky intersection between state law and federal law, and we're here to clear the smoke. This blog dives into the rights of medical marijuana users in the workplace, giving you the lowdown on what Pennsylvania’s law says about whether your employer can show you the door for using prescribed cannabis.


a man pulling out a termination letter thinking Can an Employer Fire You for Medical Marijuana in PA?

Table of Contents:



Understanding Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act and Workplace Rights


Understanding the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act and its implications for workplace rights involves a comprehensive look at the protections and limitations for medical marijuana patients in the state. The Act, known as Act 16, affords registered medical marijuana patients certain antidiscrimination protections specifically related to employment​​. This means Pennsylvania employers are generally prohibited from making hiring, firing, or retaliatory decisions solely based on an individual's status as a certified user of medical marijuana​​.


However, it's not a free pass to use or be under the influence while on the job. Employers retain the right to discipline employees for using or being under the influence of medical marijuana at work, ensuring that workplace safety is not compromised​​. Particularly, the Act bars patients from engaging in high-risk activities, such as operating heavy machinery or working with high-voltage electricity, while under the influence, even if their consumption is for medical purposes​​.


Employees may find themselves navigating a complicated legal landscape if they face discrimination due to their medical marijuana use. While the state law provides a shield against unfair treatment, it does not mandate employers to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in the workplace, leaving room for legal complexities​​. In this light, it is essential for employees to understand not just their rights but also their responsibilities when it comes to medical marijuana use and their employment.


For medical marijuana users in Pennsylvania, knowing where they stand can be pivotal. For those looking for more guidance, ARCannabisClinic stands as a beacon of support. As medical marijuana continues to weave its way into public health discourse and employment law, the clinic serves as a critical resource for patients navigating these waters. More on the rights and responsibilities under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act can be found in this detailed overview: Understanding Your Rights.


For further insight into how ARCannabisClinic can assist with understanding the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act and workplace rights, visit the clinic's comprehensive resource page here: Understanding Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act and Workplace Rights.


Key Takeaway: Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Act provides critical protections for registered patients against workplace discrimination, yet it upholds the importance of safety by allowing employers to enforce rules against use while on duty.



Drug Testing and Medical Marijuana Use in Pennsylvania Employment


Drug testing in the workplace is a common practice, and for those using medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, it's a significant concern. The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act (MMA), while providing protections for medical marijuana patients against discrimination, does not prevent employers from maintaining drug-free workplace policies, particularly when federal contracts or grants are involved​​. This creates a complex situation for both employers and employees when state laws allowing medical marijuana use collide with federal laws that still consider it illegal.


A pivotal case in Pennsylvania, HACC v. PHRC, highlighted this complexity. A student in a nursing program was denied accommodation for her medical marijuana use, despite state protections, due to the school's drug testing policy​​. This case reflects the broader issue employees face—balancing their medical needs with their career obligations and the potential for a positive drug test leading to adverse employment actions.


The intricacies of these laws and cases underscore the delicate balance employers must maintain. They need to support employees' rights under state law while adhering to federal regulations and ensuring a safe workplace, particularly in safety-sensitive positions where impairment could pose a safety risk​​. Pennsylvania courts are still shaping the interpretation of the MMA through cases like Palmiter v. Commonwealth Health Systems, which recognized a patient's right to sue for wrongful termination due to lawful medical marijuana use​​.


The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act's provisions have remained largely untested in court, creating an ambiguous legal landscape for both medical marijuana users facing drug tests and for skittish employers who must tread carefully to avoid discrimination yet maintain safety standards​​​​. The MMA's lack of explicit accommodation for medical marijuana use on the job has left employers and employees in a gray area, especially when employees lawfully use medical cannabis off premises but then fail workplace drug screenings​​.


Employees certified to use medical marijuana in Pennsylvania should be aware of the potential implications of a positive drug test. While they may have protection from being fired solely for their status as medical marijuana patients, the presence of THC in their system at the workplace can still lead to disciplinary action​​. It's a precarious balance of patient rights, public health considerations, and adherence to both state and federal law.


Those looking for further assistance or facing challenges with medical marijuana and employment can explore their options through resources like ARCannabisClinic's medical screening, which can provide additional support and guidance.


Key Takeaway: The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act provides protections for medical marijuana users, but these protections must be weighed against the requirements of workplace drug testing policies and federal law, creating a nuanced legal situation that continues to evolve.



Disclosure of Medical Marijuana Use to Employers in Pennsylvania


In Pennsylvania, the disclosure of medical marijuana use to employers is not mandated by law. This means that as a medical marijuana patient, you're not legally required to tell your employer about your use of the drug. However, this does not prevent an employer from asking about it​​. If an employer does inquire, it's important to remember that disclosing such information outside of official governmental or health care purposes can be considered a misdemeanor of the third degree, making discretion vital​​.


The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act (Act 16) outlines that employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their status as registered medical marijuana users. This protection extends to all facets of employment including hiring, firing, and other terms of employment​​. While the Act provides certain protections, it does not require employers to allow the use of medical marijuana on their property or premises​​.


Employers may discipline employees for being under the influence of medical marijuana in the workplace or if their conduct falls below the standard of care normally accepted for their position. It's clear that while patient status is protected, the actual use of medical marijuana at work is not accommodated, and employees must adhere to workplace policies regarding drug use​​.


Given these guidelines, patients must carefully consider the potential implications of discussing their medical marijuana use with their employers. It's a personal decision that can be affected by the nature of their job, the workplace environment, and the employer's policies on drug use. For more detailed information on the rights and responsibilities regarding medical marijuana use in the workplace, one might consult a legal overview provided by the Marijuana Policy Project.


For those in Pennsylvania navigating the complexities of medical marijuana use and employment, ARCannabisClinic offers resources and support. Whether you're seeking information on how to get a marijuana card or understanding the qualifying conditions, ARCannabisClinic is there to help.


Key Takeaway: While Pennsylvania law protects the status of medical marijuana patients in the workplace, it does not obligate disclosure to employers or require employers to accommodate use at work, underscoring the importance of understanding both rights and workplace policies.



THC Levels and Restrictions on Certain Job Functions in Pennsylvania Workplaces


The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, known as Act 16, establishes certain restrictions for medical marijuana users in the workplace, especially concerning THC levels and the performance of certain job functions. Pennsylvania law protects registered medical marijuana users from discrimination but sets clear boundaries regarding safety-sensitive positions and tasks that could put others at risk if performed under the influence of THC.


Workers in Pennsylvania with 10 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter in their blood serum are prohibited from performing certain high-risk jobs. This includes tasks involving high-voltage electricity, handling certain chemicals, working at a public utility, or operating in confined spaces or at heights​​​​. The law takes a firm stance on maintaining public safety and the welfare of employees, insisting that even offsite use of medical marijuana should not impact the safety standards required for these sensitive roles​​.


Employers have the discretion to discipline employees who are under the influence of medical marijuana while at work, with the Act specifically allowing for such action when an employee’s conduct falls below the standard of care normally accepted for their position​​. This means that while medical marijuana use is protected under state law, it is not an excuse for compromised performance or safety in the workplace.


The Act also makes it clear that employers are not required to make any accommodation for the use of medical marijuana on workplace premises. Employers are further protected from having to take any action that would put them in violation of federal law, as marijuana still remains a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level​​.


For those seeking more information on how this may affect their employment or looking for resources regarding medical marijuana use in Pennsylvania, ARCannabisClinic offers a wealth of information and support. Whether it’s understanding the restrictions on job functions or looking into how to get a marijuana card, resources like ARCannabisClinic's state-by-state guide can be invaluable.


Key Takeaway: Pennsylvania law upholds safety-first in the workplace, restricting certain job functions for medical marijuana users with specific THC levels, while also balancing the rights of these individuals under state law.



FAQ


Can an employer fire you for medical marijuana in PA? No, employers in Pennsylvania cannot fire an employee solely because they are a medical marijuana patient. However, if the use of medical marijuana affects their job performance or they violate workplace policies, disciplinary action might be taken.


Is the use of medical marijuana protected under state law for employees in Pennsylvania? Yes, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act protects medical marijuana patients from being discriminated against by their employers based solely on their patient status.


Can Pennsylvania employers perform random drug testing on employees who are medical marijuana patients? Yes, employers can perform random drug testing, but they cannot make employment decisions based solely on medical marijuana use outside of work hours.


What should a Pennsylvania resident do if they face adverse employment actions due to medical marijuana use? Seek legal advice immediately. An aggrieved employee has rights under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act that may protect them from wrongful termination claims.


Are there any job functions that medical marijuana users are restricted from performing in Pennsylvania? Yes, tasks involving high-voltage electricity, certain chemicals, public utility work, and operating in confined spaces are restricted if THC levels exceed state-defined limits.


How does federal law impact the use of medical marijuana by employees in federally regulated positions like truck drivers? Federal law, including regulations by the U.S. Department of Transportation, does not recognize medical marijuana and prohibits its use by employees in safety-sensitive positions like truck drivers.


What does the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act say about medical marijuana use and safety risks at the workplace? It states that employers are not required to accommodate on-site use and can discipline employees if their use poses a safety risk.


How can Pennsylvania employers ensure workplace safety with regard to medical marijuana use by employees? Employers can establish drug testing policies that adhere to both state and federal guidelines, ensuring that medical use does not lead to safety hazards.


Can an employee in Pennsylvania be disciplined for a positive drug test if they are a medical marijuana cardholder? Yes, especially if they work in safety-sensitive positions or if their conduct falls below the standard of care for their job role.


Does the Pennsylvania Department of Health provide guidance on medical marijuana use for employers and employees? Yes, the Pennsylvania Department of Health provides guidelines and public health advisories regarding medical marijuana use and employment.


Are Pennsylvania employers at risk of punitive damages if they wrongfully terminate an employee for using medical marijuana? Potentially, if the termination is found to be in violation of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, the employer might face legal consequences.


What should medical marijuana users in Pennsylvania do before seeking a job in safety-sensitive areas such as construction sites? They should consult with legal marijuana users' advocates or attorneys to understand their rights and any potential work restrictions.


How does the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act affect pre-employment drug tests for medical marijuana users? While the Act does not prevent pre-employment drug testing, it prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana users, which may affect how test results are handled.


Can medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania seek legal redress through the superior court if they are fired for off-the-job use? Yes, they may have the right to a private cause of action under state law, as indicated by court decisions like Palmiter v.


Should medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania disclose their use when applying for jobs with local governments or businesses? Disclosure is not legally required, but patients may choose to do so depending on the employer's drug policy and the nature of the job.


What accommodations are Pennsylvania employers required to make for employees who use medical marijuana for conditions like chronic pain? Employers are not required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in the workplace but cannot discriminate based on the employee's status as a medical marijuana patient.


What role do the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Commonwealth Health Systems play in legal disputes involving medical marijuana in the workplace? These institutions may become involved if a case regarding medical marijuana use and employment practices is escalated to the state's highest courts.


How should business owners in Pennsylvania handle drug testing policies for medical cannabis users? Business owners should consult with legal experts to create drug testing policies that respect the rights of medical cannabis users while ensuring workplace safety.


What should medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania do if they are unsure about their rights at work? They should seek advice from resources such as the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business or medical marijuana advocacy groups.


How can medical marijuana users in Pennsylvania find out more about their employment rights under state law? They can visit websites like ARCannabisClinic for information on medical marijuana laws and employment rights.


Can medical marijuana patients be fired for failing a drug test in Pennsylvania? No, not solely on the basis of failing a drug test due to legal medical marijuana use, according to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act.


Does federal law override Pennsylvania's law regarding medical marijuana in the workplace? Yes, federal law does not recognize medical marijuana, and federal employees or those in federally regulated jobs may be subject to federal drug testing rules.


Are there protections for medical marijuana patients against adverse employment actions in Pennsylvania? Yes, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana users, but it doesn't prevent action if workplace performance is affected.


What should an aggrieved employee do if discriminated against by Pennsylvania employers for using medical marijuana? They should consult a Pittsburgh attorney specializing in employment law, such as John McCreary Jr., or seek assistance from legal resources like the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.


Are there restrictions for medical marijuana users in Pennsylvania regarding public utility jobs or working with high-voltage electricity? Yes, the law restricts medical marijuana users from performing jobs involving high-voltage electricity if their THC levels are above the state limit.


Can a wrongful termination claim be filed in Pennsylvania if fired for off-site medical marijuana use? Yes, if the termination was solely due to off-site medical use, the employee might have grounds for a wrongful termination claim.


How do drug testing policies affect medical marijuana patients working in safety-sensitive positions in Pennsylvania? Patients in safety-sensitive positions may be subject to stricter drug testing policies and may need to meet specific safety standards, regardless of their medical use.


What is the standard of care for medical marijuana use in the workplace in Pennsylvania? Employees must not be under the influence to the extent that it impairs their ability to perform their job safely and to the standard of care expected.


Can medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania perform jobs at construction sites or in motor vehicles? Yes, unless their THC levels exceed the legal limit or their performance falls below the standard of care, posing a safety hazard.


Do local governments in Pennsylvania have their own rules for medical marijuana users in the workplace? Local governments may have specific drug testing requirements but must comply with state laws regarding discrimination against medical marijuana users.


What should medical marijuana cardholders in Pennsylvania do if faced with a positive drug test? They should review their rights under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act and seek legal advice if they face adverse employment actions.


How can medical marijuana users ensure they comply with public policy and workplace safety issues in Pennsylvania? By using medical marijuana responsibly, ensuring it does not affect their job performance, and adhering to workplace policies regarding drug use.


What types of job functions may require Pennsylvania employers to enforce stricter drug testing and safety risk policies? Jobs involving high-voltage electricity, public utility work, or operation of heavy machinery may require stricter policies to ensure public health and safety.


How do Pennsylvania lawmakers view medical marijuana use and unemployment benefits? The law does not provide clear guidance, and cases may be judged individually, considering whether the use of medical marijuana was in accordance with state law.


What should a Pennsylvania resident consider before using medical marijuana if they work in a safety-sensitive position? They should consider the potential legal marijuana users' implications and consult with a Harrisburg attorney or employment expert.


Do federal drug testing rules affect medical marijuana patients working in transportation or as truck drivers in Pennsylvania? Yes, federal drug testing rules for safety-sensitive positions, such as transportation jobs, do not allow for medical marijuana use.


What legal recourse do medical marijuana users in Pennsylvania have if they are restricted from performing certain job duties? They may seek legal advice on the basis of the employee's rights under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act and the Disabilities Act.


Can Pennsylvania employers ask about medical marijuana use during pre-employment drug tests? Employers can ask, but they cannot discriminate against an individual for being a medical marijuana cardholder.


What should medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania know about local governments' stance on medical use and employment? They should know that local governments must comply with state law, which protects medical marijuana users from discrimination based on their status.


How does the influence of medical marijuana on work hours and performance affect employment in Pennsylvania? Employers can take adverse action if medical marijuana use affects an employee's performance or safety during work hours.




Conclusion:


At ARCannabisClinic, we stand at the forefront of patient support in the medical marijuana landscape. As a leading national network of marijuana doctors, we're dedicated to guiding medical marijuana patients through the process of getting approved for a medical marijuana card. Our MMJ Therapy Visit is second to none, offering a tailored medical marijuana treatment plan, complete with strain selection, ratios, and dosing instructions for your unique needs. Trust in our expertise to navigate the complexities of qualifying conditions, including PTSD and anxiety, and step into a world where your well-being is our top priority. Ready to learn more? Visit ARCannabisClinic today.


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