Does Having a Virginia Marijuana Card Protect Me From Getting Fired for Using Marijuana?
Updated: Apr 15
In Virginia, Most Employees Have a Level of Protection With a Virginia Marijuana Card
Marijuana legislation is burning through the Virginia Legislature like a Cheech and Chong movie marathon, and cannabis is having its time in the spotlight all over the US as well. With all the long-awaited changes finally taking place, residents of Old Dominion are asking, “Does a medical marijuana card protect me from getting fired if I test positive on a drug screening in VA?”
The short answer is “yes.” Most people who qualify for a Virginia medical marijuana card also qualify for protection from adverse consequences of a failed employer-initiated drug screening. There are some exceptions, however. They mostly include Federal employees and contractors, and those working in the defense, safety, and transportation sectors.
Let’s take a look at what all the new Virginia laws mean for your employment status, and what you can do to protect yourself when you exercise your right to natural medicine.
Virginia Follows the At-Will Employment Doctrine
One important thing to remember about employment in Virginia is that the state only offers the most basic protections against termination in the first place. The at-will employment doctrine means that you can be fired at any time, for any reason, except in the case of a contract stating otherwise, civil rights discriminations, merit law protections, and public policy exceptions. Likewise, you can leave your place of employment under the same conditions.
Workplace Drug Testing in Virginia is Not Restricted
Virginia employers may perform drug tests on their employees without restriction. Federal protections for discriminatory testing practices are in place, meaning that your employer cannot test you for drugs simply based on things like the color of your skin, known disabilities, or gender.
In addition to these protections, most employers are prohibited from drug testing policies that violate privacy. They cannot require you to disrobe or urinate in front of others, but that’s about as far as it goes.
Marijuana Use is Still Federally Illegal - Even for Medical Purposes
The challenge with enacting laws that protect people from their employers taking action when they test positive for marijuana even if they have a marijuana card, is the fact that it is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance.
Normally, patients using medical marijuana would be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against people for their disabilities and the medications they take to treat conditions.
Marijuana may be declassified in the future, and then a patient’s use will be protected under the ADA.
Can You Use Medical Marijuana at Work if You Have a Virginia Marijuana Card?
The medical marijuana patient protection for employees that Governor Northam recently signed into law does not prevent employers from enforcing a drug-free workplace policy.
Having a Virginia marijuana card does not give you a free pass to bring your gummies to work for lunch. If your employer is laid back about cannabis use, you should probably still keep your use of intoxicating substances to your time off the clock.
Having a Medical Marijuana Card Protects Most VA Employees, The Adult-Use Law Will Not
Adult-use marijuana will soon be legal to possess in Virginia, starting July 1. Anyone 21 and over possessing an ounce or less will be fully within the limits of the law, and you can even grow your own marijuana.
However, the only current legal protection from adverse consequences of a positive drug test comes in the form of a Virginia marijuana card. As long as you are not in one of the exempt sectors and you do not exhibit workplace impairment, you won’t have to worry about workplace drug screening after you register with Virginia’s program and receive approval.
Schedule an appointment with one of our compassionate doctors in order to secure a Virginia marijuana card so that you can use cannabis legally in Virginia.
*Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It was not written by an attorney. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, Virginia Marijuana Card and all authors make no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held responsible or liable for any outdated or incorrect information. The information contained herein is not a substitute for the counsel of an attorney. We strongly recommend seeking the counsel of an attorney if you are having trouble with or are questioning employer marijuana policy enforcement.
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