Pennsylvania’s Confusing Drug Testing Laws – What Will Happen to My Job?

January 9, 2023

The MMP in Pennsylvania has been in place for over five years, but there is still a long way to go with medical marijuana. While several of its neighbors are actively working to make medicinal marijuana more accessible, Pennsylvania continues to steadfastly perplex its patient population with its conflicting drug testing rules.

How do others see me as a patient, is an often asked question. has regrettably grown to be an important factor to take into account while requesting a Pennsylvania medical marijuana license. Why did things get to this point? Well…

Unfortunately, your MMJ patient status can sometimes speak for you in social circumstances. And you should be conscious of what that could imply, particularly at work. The use of medicinal marijuana is as divisive a subject as you can find, according to some employers. Additionally, it may put you in the middle of some awkward conversations.

Thankfully, there is yet some hope. You should still wear your decision to improve your health as a badge of dignity and pride. So let’s look at your top choices for surviving the choppy waters of Pennsylvania’s drug testing rules with dignity.

How Pennsylvania’s Drug Laws Affect Employees and Patients at Work
Fundamentally, Pennsylvania provides its patients with some legal protection against a hostile workplace. Even so, there is a potential that you will experience indirect prejudice due to your illness. Why? The solution is really fairly easy.

In actuality, there is a societal stigma associated with using medical marijuana. The best thing you can do as a socially engaged patient is to accept reality as it is, even while we are all actively attempting to normalize it. Added to that? Face the truth and understand what an employer is allowed to do.

Employers are legally permitted to impose a variety of cannabis-controlling office-culture measures, and all of these are acceptable in the eyes of the law. But first, let me address your major worry:

Can you be released from your contract if you use medicinal marijuana?
Fortunately, no. Act 16 of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act is directly related to the following statement made by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP):

Employers are not permitted to treat patients differently just because they are registered patients.

The company might be sued for discrimination if they treated you unethically because you are a medicinal marijuana patient. This comprises:

early cancellation of a contract
Leave of absence without pay
disciplinary action in writing
Verbal firing threats based on your medical condition

If I have a medical card, can my employer find out?
It varies. You could be required to provide your employer with your medical records as part of the recruiting process, depending on your sector of employment. Therefore, your employer may want to see your list of prescription medications to check for any drugs that could have a negative impact on their ability to do their jobs. Marijuana falls within this category exactly.

You are under no duty to disclose this to your employer, however, if you are in sufficient health and can take your cannabis prescription outside of regular business hours. You have a right to privacy since it is something you do in your spare time. Consider it to be private information that you are free to share at any time.

Do Pennsylvania laws permit arbitrary drug tests at the workplace?
What about patients who must frequently consume medical marijuana, even during working hours? In such instance, the answer is that your employer’s restrictions on your MMJ usage at work do not constitute discrimination and do not violate any federal laws. Therefore, a surprise drug test soon after lunch might happen if your manager finds out that you have a medical card.

Employers are permitted to “discipline an employee when their conduct falls below the standard of care generally acceptable for that job” in accordance with Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination laws. The usage of medicinal marijuana on the grounds or premises of any place of employment is not needed to “make any accommodations,” either.

Thus, two things follow:

Your manager or CEO is free to impose penalties for consuming medical marijuana while working if they believe you would be unfit to do your job while impaired.
The decision to permit you to use cannabis products at work is totally up to your employer. Work performance “under the influence” is dependent on your employer’s perspective and familiarity with Pennsylvania drug laws, with a few testing exceptions related to certain sectors of employment (such as the electrical and chemical industries).

After all of that, what choices do you have right now? Actually, not too many if you’re not dealing with a straight discriminatory conduct that can be brought up in court. You may always make concessions and work out a deal with your employer on your medical needs, but it may only be a short-term fix. Realistically, statewide decriminalization is the solution to the myriad workplace issues facing the whole patient community.

Fortunately, things seem to be going well when looking at PA’s intentions to decriminalize marijuana in 2021. Governor Tom Wolf, a prominent personality in the Keystone state, is more than willing to go farther. He favors Pennsylvania-wide adult-use marijuana legalization. What a power move, huh?

Pennsylvania will join the illustrious company of states like California, Washington, and, as of last month, PA’s neighbor on the East Coast, New Jersey, if this comes to be. Such a shift from exclusively medical to entirely recreational would rock the business to its very foundation.

We shall wait for the future to materialize in the interim. Currently, we are aware that your status as a patient may prevent you from receiving the respect you merit for the courage it took for you to take control of your health and wellbeing. Your place of employment ought to be a place of fulfillment rather than punishment. But don’t worry; be patient, adaptable, and confident in the process.

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