medical cannabis in Hawaii workplace

Aug. 21, 2019

Job Searching with a Medical Marijuana Card? Dos and Don’ts for Hawaii Job Seekers

For the 26,125 registered medical cannabis cardholders in Hawaii, many questions remain unanswered with regard to medical marijuana use and employment.

  • Can a company refuse to hire or fire me because I have a medical marijuana card?
  • Do I have to take a drug test?
  • Can I use medical marijuana at work?

With matters moving fast, it can be challenging to keep up with legal developments, and separate facts from hearsay or assumption.

Job hunting is already stressful enough. Having to figure out best practices and guidelines as a medical marijuana cardholder certainly doesn’t help. Below is a current list (as of August 2019) of dos and don’ts to simplify job searching for medical cannabis cardholders in Hawaii.

Don’t use medical marijuana at work. Medicate responsibly. If you are suspected to be under the influence of cannabis while at work, you may be subject to drug testing and/or disciplinary action.
Don’t expect accommodation for your 329 card. Hawaii law explicitly states that the authorization for the medical use of cannabis does not apply “in the workplace of one’s employment” and marijuana remains a schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law. Be aware that being a medical marijuana cardholder doesn’t make you immune to possible repercussions in the workplace.
Don’t offer unsolicited information about your 329 card possession or medical history. Disclose information on a need-to-know basis and only share what is necessary.
Don’t worry about background checks. Your medical information is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Relax, medical cannabis card holder status doesn’t show up on your background check.
Don’t expect employers to omit drug screening. Although all companies in Hawaii don’t do drug testing, you shouldn’t rely on it or expect to get an exception. Research company policies before applying. Certain positions will always require a drug test, for safety reasons. Private companies are within their rights to do so as well. Know what to expect before you begin the application process.
Don’t assume that you will only get tested once. Employers in Hawaii have the right to drug test pre-employment, with reasonable suspicion, post-accident, randomly, and periodically. Know where you stand. Familiarize yourself with your company’s drug policy and stay abreast of legal changes. Many states have recently implemented workplace protections for medical marijuana users. Hawaii is not one of them, yet.
Don’t take a drug test if you know it will come back positive, as it will become a permanent note in your employee record. Deny taking the test if you know you won’t pass. However, drug test non-compliance can lead to disciplinary actions, revoking of an employment offer, or immediate dismissal.
Don’t limit your job hunt because of a positive drug test result. Keep searching! Workforce drug test results don’t become part of a public record, and drug test results are considered confidential medical information.
Don’t overshare your off-work activities. Clean up your social media accounts and avoid talking about your medical conditions or private activities.

Jobseekers holding the Hawaii 329 medical marijuana card should not expect a free pass when it comes to drug testing, at least for now. ALTRES, for example, has a zero tolerance drug-free workplace policy for in-house employees.

Follow ALTRES Staffing on Facebook to stay informed on the latest news.

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