13. Medical Marijuana & the ADA

Oce Hi, I’m Oce project director of the New England ADA Center. I’m going to talk about medical marijuana and the ADA with my colleague David. So David here’s a question for you, last week I got a call from an employer who asked the question, “now that we have medical marijuana/Cannabis in Massachusetts, do I have to permit employees to use it at work?”  More specifically, he has an employee who has Multiple Sclerosis and has a doctor’s prescription for marijuana. Does this employer have to permit him to use it in the workplace? For example, eating it in food? Injesting it in a pill form? or smoking it in the parking lot?

David I’ll guess smoking it in the parking lot?

Oce Well, the answer is he cannot use marijuana anywhere on the premises because under federal law, marijuana is an illegal substance and the ADA does not cover current illegal use of drugs.

David Even though a doctor-prescribed the use of marijuana which is permitted by state law, the use of marijuana/cannabis is still prohibited by federal law. This must be very confusing to employers.

Oce Yes, but the bottom line is that marijuana is an illegal drug under the federal law, and the ADA does not cover illegal use of drugs. If listeners, including both employers and employees would like help addressing questions of this kind, just give us a call.