Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 117, Issue 3, pp 659–666 | Cite as

Employment and Public Policy Issues Surrounding Medical Marijuana in the Workplace



The status of marijuana as an illegal drug has greatly evolved in recent years. Many countries have decriminalized possession of marijuana for personal use. Others have not decriminalized it but simply “tolerate” it for private personal use. Four countries have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana and one other tolerates the use of marijuana for medical purposes without having legislated a specific right for such possession and use. To date, 17 of the United States and the District of Columbia have also passed laws regarding medical marijuana. However, state medical marijuana laws are at odds with the federal Controlled Substances Act, which prohibits possession of marijuana. This fact, in tandem with employer requirements under the Drug-Free Workplace Act, has created a dilemma for employers who have employees with medical conditions for which medical marijuana has been recommended. Given that 18 additional states currently have medical marijuana legislation pending, medical marijuana in the workplace is an issue which is not going to go away. As a result, it is time to examine the interface between federal and state laws as well as the public policy issues surrounding the lack of rights which medical marijuana patients have in their workplaces.


Ethics Law Medical marijuana Public policy Workplace 


  1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. (1990). 42 U.S.C. §§12101 et seq. Google Scholar
  2. Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. (2010). A.R.S. Sect. 36-2814 (A)–(B).Google Scholar
  3. Casias v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. No. 10-CV-781 (W.D. Mich. Feb 11, 2011) 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15244, 1-2 (W.D., Mich. 2011).Google Scholar
  4. Conant v. Walters. (2002). 309 F.3d 629 (9th Cir.).Google Scholar
  5. Controlled Substances Act. (1970). Pub. L. 91-513, 84 Stat. 1236, enacted October 27, 1970, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 801 et. seq.Google Scholar
  6. Department of Justice. (2009). Memorandum for Selected United States Attorneys. Retrieved 19 October, 2009 from
  7. Department of Transportation. (2009). DOT Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance Notice. Retrieved 22 October, 2009 from
  8. Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. 41 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.; 34 C.F.R. Part 85, 34 C.F.R. §§ 85.605 and 85.610, 45 C.F.R. § 630.100 et seq. for National Science Foundation grantees; 48 C.F.R. § 52.223-6 for contracts, and 48 C.F.R. § 23.504 and 48 CFR 252.223-7004.Google Scholar
  9. Emerald Steel Fabricators, Inc. v. Bureau of Labor & Indus. (2010). 348 Or 159.Google Scholar
  10. Gonzales v. Raich. (2005). 125 S.Ct. 2195.Google Scholar
  11. James v. Costa Mesa. (2012), No. 10-55768 (9th Cir).Google Scholar
  12. Johnson v. Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. LLC. (2009). 2009 MT 108 N, 2009 Mont. LEXIS 120.Google Scholar
  13. Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. (2008). MCLA 333.26421-333.26430.Google Scholar
  14. New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. (2010). N.J. Stat. Sect. 24:6I-1 et seq.Google Scholar
  15. Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C.A. § 651 et seq. Google Scholar
  16. Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Mgmt. LLC. (2009). 152 Wn. App. 388, 216 P.3d 1055.Google Scholar
  17. Ross v. Raging Wire Telecomm., Inc. (CA). (2008). 42 Cal. 4th 920.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessSiena CollegeLoudonvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations