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How to talk to your boss about cannabis (and how a medical marijuana card makes it SO much easier)

How to talk to your boss about cannabis (and how a medical marijuana card makes it SO much easier)

It’s a fascinating time to live in Massachusetts where medical marijuana was legalized in 2013 and recreational marijuana shops have been popping up all over the state since legalization took effect in 2018. While acceptance of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis is growing and the “pothead” stigma is shrinking, two big questions remain for cannabis users:

  • What do I do if my company conducts regular drug tests?
  • How do I talk to my boss about my cannabis use without putting my job in jeopardy?

At Revolutionary Clinics, we’re in the business of dispensing medical marijuana, not legal advice. If you’re concerned about how your employer will react to your use of cannabis, we strongly recommend that you consult with a lawyer before you speak to your boss. While every company has different values, policies and procedures here in Massachusetts, if you have a medical marijuana card due to a debilitating medical condition, you cannot be fired for using medical marijuana.

Recreational marijuana use is an altogether different story. According to an article in the Society of Human Resources Management, “if an employee is using marijuana recreationally, the employee’s job would not be similarly protected”. If the lack of job security isn’t compelling enough, check out our blog post where we wrote about the five other reasons why Massachusetts medical marijuana card is still a good thing to have.

For medical marijuana users, your employers are required by Massachusetts state law to engage you in an “interactive process” about your cannabis use and make “reasonable accommodations”. The “interactive process” is legal speak for an honest, transparent conversation with your boss or a Human Resources representative where you share the following about your medical marijuana use:

  • The “debilitating medical condition” that your physician cited when authorizing your Massachusetts medical marijuana card.
  • Your Massachusetts medical marijuana card so your employer can make a copy of it for your employment file.
  • Your concerns about violating the company’s drug policy
  • Your confidence in your ability to perform your essential job functions
  • Your knowledge of your rights under Massachusetts state law.

The goal of this “interactive process” is for you and your employer to find the common ground both of you need to accommodate your medical marijuana use during non-working hours.  Accommodations could be an adjustment to your work schedule or extra time off to deal with your condition but let’s make one thing 100% clear, NO employer will tolerate any employee showing up for work under the influence. Please, don’t even think about it.

What if you’re a medical marijuana user and you’re thinking about leaving your current job for a new company with a strict drug policy? When should you bring up your cannabis use during the interview process? We directed these questions to the VP of Human Resources at a large Massachusetts healthcare company and his answers surprised us. “The interview process is all about demonstrating why you’re the best person for the job,” he said. “Candidates should always focus on their skills, their background, and their education, not their restrictions or limitations. That’s true for any personal situation or family matter. The appropriate time for an applicant to disclose his or use of medical marijuana and the condition he or she is using it for is after the prospective employer has tendered a formal offer. From there, the discussion can shift to a mutual understanding of what the essential functions of the job are and the employer’s expectations. At that point, accommodations for the employee’s medical situation can be made on a case by case basis.”

At Revolutionary Clinics, we’re here not just here to help you experience the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana, we’re here to help you feel confident and secure as a medical marijuana user. If you’re ready to start a conversation with us, please stop by the Revolutionary Clinics dispensary nearest you or give us a call at 617-213-6006!

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