Medical Marijuana

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

At least 20 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in recent years. It is a trend that is gaining speed as several other states are considering legislation or ballot measures to follow suit. Colorado and Washington have gone a step further and legalized recreational marijuana use.

The changes have left many employers wondering what these legalization laws mean for workplace drug testing policies, especially since marijuana use remains illegal under federal law. In states where medical marijuana is legal, courts generally have held that employers can fire or refuse to hire individuals who fail drug tests regardless of their medical marijuana registry status.

Nonetheless, some state legalization laws are broader than others and certain questions remain unresolved. As a result, employers may wish to consult local counsel on this rapidly-evolving topic.

Using XpertHR's various Tools and resources will help employers better understand and handle the issue of medical marijuana.

Quick Reference

Many states have enacted laws legalizing medical marijuana use for specified medicinal purposes and, in some cases, recreational purposes as well. XpertHR's handy Quick Reference chart details the states where such usage is legal.

Marijuana Laws by State


This podcast features an in-depth panel discussion with expert analysis on what state legalization laws mean for employers.

How Marijuana Legalization Laws Impact the Workplace

An increasing number of state laws conflict with the federal ban on marijuana use. Employers must stay abreast of the various state laws and what they mean for drug testing policies.

Hazy Future: Reconciling Federal and State Laws on Marijuana Use

Employment Law Manual

XpertHR's Employment Law Manual has useful information about medical marijuana available at the following links:

Recruiting and Hiring > Preemployment Screening and Testing > Testing for Medical Marijuana

Recruiting and Hiring > Employment Offer

Employee Management > Employee Privacy > Testing of Employees

HR Strategy, Management and the Law > Multistate Employer


XpertHR's blog series includes posts addressing the trend of medical marijuana legalization laws:

Marijuana Legalization Trend Impacts US Employers

Podcast Ponders How US Legalization Laws Impact HR

Top Four Recruiting and Hiring Trends for US Employers

Reviewing Employee Handbooks: Nine Steps to Giving Your Staff Handbook an Annual Checkup

How To

Medical marijuana is a notable state-specific issue that has created a conundrum for employers. However, there are other dilemmas as well when it comes to drug testing programs. XpertHR offers step-by-step guidance:

How to Conduct a Drug Test


May an employer ask a job applicant about lawful drug use?

Can an employer legally ask a job applicant to submit to a pre-hire drug test as a condition of employment?