Medical Marijuana and Drug Testing in the Workplace

Oct. 13, 2017

Under the Minnesota Medical Cannabis Act (MCA), an employer may not discriminate against a person based upon the person’s status as a patient enrolled in a cannabis registry program or such a patient’s positive drug test for cannabis components or metabolites. Minn. Stat. § 152.32, subd. 3(c). This means that if your company has a drug-testing program, and an employee tests positive for cannabis, he or she may present verification of enrollment in the medical cannabis patient registry program as part of the employee’s explanation in response to a drug test result. The MCA expressly permits adverse employment action against any employee who tests positive if a failure to take such action would violate federal law or regulations, or cause the employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law.

The Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act does not expressly include enrollment in the medical cannabis patient registry program as a defense for employees, but it clearly is the law. The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently ruled that an employer illegally discriminated against a worker on the basis of disability under state law after the employer fired an employee who uses medical marijuana outside of the workplace, but tested positive for cannabis on a drug test. The Court's opinion noted that "an exception to an employer's drug policy to permit its use is a facially reasonable accommodation."

If your company has a drug and alcohol testing policy applicable to Minnesota employees and it does not include an MCA exception, you should consider revising the policy.

Written By:
Bill Egan

Bill Egan is a seasoned  Employment Law Attorney backed by over 33 years of proven, veteran experience. He specializes in navigating businesses through conflict resolution in the workplace.

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