How will medical marijuana use go over in the workplace?

Aug 28, 2014

While medical marijuana will soon be legal for some illnesses in New York, legal experts are warning there are some unanswered concerns over when and where it can be used.

In about a year and a half, people with illnesses like cancer or AIDS will be able to use medicinal marijuana legally for pain and loss of appetite.

But will those patients be allowed to be high in the workplace?

Labor attorney Michael Macomber, with the firm Tully Rinckey, says marijuana is still an illegal drug at the federal level after all.

"And so applying federal law, the Americans with Disabilities Act may not protect medical marijuana use," he said.

Macomber says the courts will have to make a lot of the decisions over whether or not marijuana will allowed to be used on the job.

"The way this will be found out is an employee will test positive on a drug test, and the ADA is not going to protect them," Macomber said.

New York is the 23rd state to legalize medicinal pot, but Macomber says it’s hard to look at other states for answers.

"The real question’s going to be, how is the New York courts going to apply the New York law with respect to this," he said.

There’s going to be a lot of issues that are going to come out about it," Macomber said. "I think the takeaway is that the legislature, recognizing that there may be some problems in the employment realm, they’re trying to stay ahead of it; they’re trying to think about these issues."

Macomber advises potential future users of medicinal marijuana to have a conversation with their employers about the drug's use before the law goes into affect.