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Can I get in Trouble at Work for Using Prescription Marijuana?

As the number of states legalizing cannabis continues to grow, so does the number of products that contain its chemical compounds. A decade or two ago, cannabis-based edibles, oils, beauty products, and medicines were just a dream.

Today, the number of products containing cannabis or its chemical compounds continues to grow, with the most notable breakthroughs achieved in the field of medicine. Prescription medicine that’s based on natural ingredients and takes away the pain, insomnia, or anxiety, with almost no side-effects, is now a reality.

Unfortunately, as the number of health beneficial cannabis-based products grows, so is the number of employers with zero-tolerance drug policies. But what happens when a doctor prescribes the use of medical marijuana? Can your prescription cause you trouble at work?

Well, the answer isn’t that simple, so read through our article and discover what happens when an unmovable employer meets the unstoppable prescription cannabis.

Weed and prescriptions

Medical marijuana uses the plant, or its derivatives, to treat certain diseases and conditions, including eating disorders, insomnia, glaucoma, anxiety, nausea, pain, and many others. It’s essentially the same plant or the product as recreational cannabis, but it’s taken for medical reasons. 

The cannabis plant contains over 100 different cannabinoids, most notable of which are the THC and the CBD. These cannabinoids have various beneficial effects on the body, which is why they are becoming more present in medicine, pharmacology, and beauty products.

Medical marijuana comes in many different forms, ranging from a classic joint which you smoke, or a vape for inhalation purposes. You can also ingest it, as there are many edibles made from weed, apply it to your skin in the form of a lotion, or place a few drops of cannabis oil under your tongue.

Depending on your condition, your doctor might prescribe you with a THC-based product, or a CBD-based product. For example, if a person has arthritis, the doctor will prescribe THC based products, as they’re better for pain relief. Likewise, if someone has anxiety issues, they’ll be prescribed with a CBD-derived product.

The difference between THC and CBD-based products lies in their psychoactive properties, as our friends at MedSignals told us. THC is the principal psychoactive compound of weed and produces that well-known “high” that might impair your motor skills, and distort your sense of time.

CBD products, on the other hand, contain very minute traces of THC, if any. Unlike THC, the CBD doesn’t impair your motor skills, but it may cause diarrhea, fatigue, or changes in appetite and weight. However, for those wondering, high-quality CBD-based products can’t be detected on a random workplace drug testing.

Marijuana and workplace drug testing

In the time of writing, there are 33 states in which cannabis is legal in some form, either for medical or recreational use. The benefits of the plant and its products are now highly acknowledged. Still, cannabis use, just like alcohol, is highly frowned upon it the workplace.

Many employers, especially those with federal funding, require their employees to submit to workplace drug (and alcohol) testing. However, marijuana and its derivatives are very different from alcohol, and therein lies the problem.

Unlike alcohol, which takes approximately three days to disappear from your system entirely, cannabis stays in your body for a significantly more extended period. Depending on the frequency of use, and the potency of the product, marijuana can be detected in your hair for a long time. And if your test results are positive – you might be in trouble.

But how can something a doctor prescribed get you in trouble?

Can you get in trouble for using prescription marijuana?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple, short answer to that question. Marijuana, though legal for medical and recreational use in most states, is still illegal under federal law. Unfortunately, workplace drug testing isn’t regulated by federal but state laws. 

Whether or not you’ll get in trouble for prescription marijuana depends on several factors. One of the most important factors is the state you live in, and its laws regarding medical marijuana. Some states allow you to test positive, as long as you use your prescription cannabis off-duty, and don’t show up for work under the influence.

Showing up for work under the influence puts you, and others, in potential danger, due to your physical impairment. Legally speaking, this allows your employer to take disciplinary actions against you.

Some states disallow prescription use, despite doctor’s approval, and despite your off-hours use. If you test positive in these circumstances, you might face legal repercussions or termination of employment.

Other factors include your employer and whether or not your company allows the use of medically prescribed cannabis. If your employer allows the use of prescribed cannabis products, then they have to do so in accordance with the state’s law and its guidelines.

Lastly, it mostly depends on your prescription. If your medicine is THC-based, than you might test positive on a workplace drug test. That may get you into trouble, depending on your workplace drug policy and state laws. 

But CBD products, especially high-quality ones used in the pharmacology and cosmetics industry, feature minuscule traces of THC. They’re usually undetectable by any drug test, as most tests only scan for THC and its metabolites in your body. As such, their use is highly unlikely to get you into any trouble at work, as they can’t cause motor skill impairment.


Whether or not you’ll get in trouble at work for your prescription marijuana depends on several factors, like state laws, employment policies, and prescriptions themselves. We believe that no one should lose their job for their off-duty, medical use of cannabis, as long as they’re responsible adults at work.

The issues surrounding the workplace and medical use of cannabis are complicated. But regardless of where you stand on this subject, we urge you to consult with the employment lawyer regarding workplace and prescription cannabis use. They can help shed some light on the matter, and help you with any inquiries you might have.

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