- Hammond Lewis
Will Having a Medical Marijuana Card Get You Fired in West Virginia?
West Virginia has seen more than a handful of changes to its medical marijuana program since its passing in 2017. From adding smokable flower to installing its first dispensary, the program is expanding quickly, and patients are applying for medical marijuana certifications in West Virginia by the thousands.
While new patients are being approved for medical marijuana and enjoying the natural relief of cannabis, many are wondering if, or how, medical marijuana use might affect their job.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about employment and being a medical marijuana patient in West Virginia!
Your Employee Rights as a Medical Marijuana Patient in West Virginia
Being a medical marijuana patient in West Virginia in 2021 offers you some affordable rights as a patient, but it’s important to remember that West Virginia is an “employment-at-will” state.
An “employment-at-will” state means that both the employer and employee may terminate the professional relationship at any time, for any reason, unless a law or agreement contradicts the termination.
According to West Virginia law, employers are prohibited from denying employment based solely on the factor of a potential employee being registered as a medical marijuana patient.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or terminal condition and have received a medical marijuana certification, there are certain protections that are available to you as a medical marijuana patient.
On the flip side, employers are also afforded significant rights and leeway concerning their employees and medical marijuana usage; and due to the complex nature of federal vs. state laws, it can get a little tricky in trying to determine how employee protections for medical marijuana patients work in West Virginia.
Using Medical Marijuana in the Workplace in West Virginia
One of the more obvious prohibited activities for medical marijuana patients in West Virginia is the use of medical marijuana in the workplace, or when on break at the workplace.
West Virginia employees are prohibited from using medical marijuana in the workplace or while on break at work, and paraphernalia related to medical marijuana is also prohibited from being present in the workplace. This restriction extends to both contractors as well as full-time and part-time employees, and it’s pretty standard for states with medical marijuana programs.
Certain Positions Have Restrictions on Medical Marijuana Use in West Virginia
Another standard protocol for medical marijuana states is the restriction for specific types of positions called “safety-sensitive” positions from using medical marijuana altogether. Employers in West Virginia can refuse employment to medical marijuana patients applying for safety sensitive positions, and employers typically define their safety sensitive positions in writing.
These types of positions can include:
· State correctional facilities
· Youth detention centers
· Work at heights or in confined spaces including mining
· Positions working with chemicals that require a permit from the federal or state government
· Positions that involve working with high-voltage electricity or public utility
· Positions requiring the operation of a vehicle, aircraft, train, boat, or heavy machinery.
Drug Testing for Medical Marijuana Patients in West Virginia
Medical marijuana patients may be subject to drug testing by employers with drug testing policies or by employers who adhere to the Division of Personnel (DOP) Drug-and Alcohol-Free Workplace policy (DOP-P2).
Employers are free to adopt their own drug testing policies, and employees are subject to these policies regardless of medical marijuana patient status. But employees may not be drug tested solely based on private or discriminatory factors, such as your race, disability, gender, or purely because of your status as a registered medical marijuana patient.
It will ultimately be up to the policies of your employer as to whether you will be drug tested, and how that drug test will affect your employment.
Provided you are not applying for a safety sensitive position and the employer does not have any regulations concerning the use of medical marijuana by patients in their own home, a positive drug test for marijuana shouldn’t affect your employment, but please seek legal counsel as needed.
Alternatively, there are many companies in the cannabis industry that are looking for medical marijuana patients as employees, and finding employment with a cannabis centered business can be an excellent opportunity for those looking for companies that are more relaxed on cannabis use and drug testing.
The Americans With Disabilities Act & Medical Marijuana in West Virginia
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) does not provide additional protections for medical marijuana patients in West Virginia. As a federal act, the ADA doesn’t consider medical marijuana a legal medicine, and as such medical marijuana usage is not protected by the ADA.
Seeking Employment as a Medical Marijuana Patient in West Virginia
Although there are both laws favoring employers and protections for medical marijuana patients in West Virginia, ultimately your status as a medical marijuana patient seeking employment will be unique to the company you are working for.
While there are restrictions concerning the use of medical marijuana in the workplace, and prohibitions from employers denying or terminating employees solely based on your status as a medical marijuana patient, ultimately it will be up to the particular employer’s policy.
Many employers such as Amazon are moving away from drug testing altogether, and in many cases employers are looking for qualified employees who can perform their work duties efficiently regardless of the medications they take, or their choices off the clock.
The laws in West Virginia mostly revolve around being impaired at the workplace, or when drugs or alcohol interfere with an employee’s ability to perform their duties at work. The use of medical marijuana at home and off the job does not constitute impairment at work, and the regulations in West Virginia have been provided by the West Virginia Division of Personnel Medical Cannabis Act FAQ
Being a Medical Marijuana Patient Protects Your Rights as an Employee
The Medical Cannabis Act in West Virginia is a state enacted law, and employers are prohibited from terminating or denying employment solely based on your status as a medical marijuana patient in West Virginia. Additionally, some employers may choose to make certain minimal exceptions when it comes to THC screening for employees with a medical marijuana card.
It’s essential to note, however, that all the protections that are offered for West Virginia employees are only available to certified medical marijuana patients in the state. The use or possession of cannabis without an accompanying certification is illegal and provides no protections from employers terminating employment or taking disciplinary action against employees.
If you are going to use cannabis to treat your conditions, the only way to ensure that your rights are protected in West Virginia is to hold a medical marijuana certification in the state. This will provide the legal rights and protections that the state offers to patients.
Get Your Medical Marijuana Certification in West Virginia
West Virginia offers protections for both employers and employees concerning medical marijuana. The only way to be protected under those provisions is to be certified as a medical marijuana patient in West Virginia.
Take the steps to schedule your medical marijuana evaluation appointment today and get access to legal marijuana products available at dispensaries!
Being a West Virginia medical marijuana patient allows you the freedom to take your medication the right way for you. We’re dedicated to helping patients every step of the way! Feel free to give us a call at 877-303-8424 and we can answer your questions about getting a medical marijuana card in West Virginia.
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
West Virginia Marijuana Card’s mission is to help everyone achieve
wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana.
Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for
our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
If you have any questions, call us at 877-303-8424, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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