One of the questions that we get a lot at Tetra Health Centers is whether or not an employer can fire you for using marijuana under the legal laws of Florida. The simple answer is “yes, they can,”but it is a bit more complicated than that.
The debate about whether or not an employer can fire someone for using medical marijuana under the laws of the state have been ongoing since California first legalized marijuana for medical use. So far, every case that has gone to court has been in favor of the employer. Employees are not protected by their state’s medical marijuana laws.
The reason that most courts are likely to come down on the side of the employer is that medical marijuana is still federally illegal, and therefore not a prescription drug. This means that it is not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your employer has a drug-free workplace policy and you violate it, you can be fired.
Some people think that the problem lies in the testing for marijuana. If employers could use a drug test to prove the employee was intoxicated while on the job, employers might be more inclined to allow those with medical marijuana cards to remain employed. However, current tests being used only test for the presence of THC, which can remain in the system for days after use.
Some states are taking the matter into their own hands and passing laws protecting patients with medical marijuana cards from discrimination. So far, 10 of the 35 states that have legal medical marijuana have these laws. Unfortunately, Florida is not one of them.
So what can you do? Be up front with your school or employer about your medical marijuana use. If they accept you in spite of this fact, you might be in the clear. If your employer later gives you a drug test and you fail, they can still fire you if it is the company’s policy. You can try to appeal with your human resources department, but it is ultimately up to the company.