Louisiana’s medical marijuana patients still face issues in the workplace

FILE - Smokable medical marijuana is now available for Louisiana patients.
FILE - Smokable medical marijuana is now available for Louisiana patients.(WAFB)
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 6:31 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The number of patients using medical marijuana is expected to grow rapidly now that the cost of the medication has been significantly lowered. However, enrolling in the program may put you at odds with your employer.

Now that you can smoke your medical cannabis, it may feel like there’s nothing else to worry about before you spark up. But you may want to think again. Most employers operate under a strict zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drugs, including marijuana.

“This is a really complex issue, even in states that have fully legalized, it has yet to be figured out,” said local lobbyist Peter Robins-Brown.

Peter Robins-Brown, with the group Working for Lousiana Progress, has been looking at this issue closely.

“The big problem from the employer side, in particular, is that we don’t really have a good test for marijuana,” said Robins-Brown.

The drug tests that companies use can detect marijuana in a person’s system weeks or even months back in some cases. Making it nearly impossible to detect whether someone was high on the job or not.

“So that makes it difficult for people where you need like drivers, commercial drivers licenses, you’re operating heavy machinery so it’s like a workplace safety issue,” Robins-Brown continued.

Not knowing if you can take your medication and still have a job, can be an added level of stress for patients.

“I don’t think that people should have fear for taking care of their mental health and then losing their job,” said Andie Andrews.

As a patient herself, Andrews said she knows first hand the daily worry that comes with using her medication.

“I know a lot of people that should have a medical card or that would benefit from having a medical card that probably drink heavily or use other things to self-medicate and they’re terrified of being fired so they just suffer,” said Andrews.

If your job gives you a drug test and you come up positive, even with a medical card, there may still be a tough fight ahead with your company unless they update their policies with the latest law.

Experts said it’s crucial for companies to get ahead of this right now and lay out their policy to avoid any problems down the road in this very gray area.

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