Legal Blog

Marijuana and The Workplace

Marijuana and work were two words that were mutually exclusive for many years. Today, times are different. Maryland, D.C., and Virginia all have laws making medical marijuana legal (with D.C. law permitting residents to grow/possess recreational marijuana).

From a Human Resources perspective, medical marijuana can complicate anti-drug policies. The recent Arizona decision Whitmire v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. reflects the courts’ attempts to address the increase in marijuana legalization. The following are tips for HR professionals to consider when addressing suspected marijuana use in the workplace:

  1. Addiction to drugs is oftentimes a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and therefore terminating someone with a known drug addiction may be illegal. Check your current policy to ensure that they reflect this sensitive issue/variance in the law.
  2. Cross-reference the current medical marijuana law in your state to verify that it is reflected in your policies. Each state varies – and therefore, you should be aware of the parameters of the jurisdiction.
  3. A positive drug screen should not automatically trigger termination. Whether or not the employee can perform the essential functions of the job, along with several other factors, should be examined.

I recommend looking at your internal policies today and discussing with an employment law attorney. As the marijuana landscape broadens, limiting liability will be directly tied to updating the applicable policies.


If you have any questions about this or any other Labor and Employment topics, please contact me at or 703-745-1849



Theodora Stringham assists individuals, businesses, and organizations with growing successfully while minimizing liability. Focusing on real estate and personnel needs, Ms. Stringham executes sustainable plans for real estate development and employee matters. She provides comprehensive representation for everyday growth issues, including, but not limited to, re-zonings, site plan approvals, eminent domain/valuation concerns, employment discrimination, and disciplinary issues. Ms. Stringham’s scope of representation ranges from identifying potential liability and providing counseling/trainings, all the way through representation at trial.






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