Question of the Week

A member of our Medical Staff recently disclosed to the Chief of Staff that they have a prescription to use medical marijuana. How should we handle this?

Rest assured, you are not the only ones that have faced this situation! As the number of states that legalize both medical and recreational marijuana continues to grow, questions related to marijuana use are becoming increasingly common. In general, there are three main things to know before tackling a situation like this:

  1. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Because of that, users of medical marijuana are not entitled to federal protections like those offered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Instead, all protections and prohibitions are regulated by states, state actors (i.e., a state Board of Medicine), and other committees commissioned by the state.
  1. Every state is handling medical marijuana use and the workplace a little differently. Some states have provided additional protections by doing things like prohibiting discrimination against users of medical marijuana or mandating that employers provide reasonable accommodations for such users. Other states have taken the stance that practitioners should refrain from using medical marijuana, and some states have not addressed the issue at all.
  1. No state requires employers to permit the use of medical marijuana during work or on work property.

With the above in mind, we recommend that hospitals treat this situation like any other where they receive notice that a practitioner may be experiencing a health problem.  The matter should be reviewed under the Practitioner Health Policy or other applicable policy to determine if the underlying cause for the use of medical marijuana affects the practitioner’s ability to safely treat patients. Also, check with counsel to see how your state is addressing this issue.