your own time

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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your own time

How can you employer tell you what you can
and can not do on your own time smoking pot
I smoke for medical and they found out now
they are going to fire me

Asked on February 1, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They cannot terminate you for having a prescription for using medical marijuana or for using it purely off-duty/off-site (with two important exceptions, below). However, you can be terminated for possessing marijuana, even medical marijuana, at work (since it is still an illegal substance under federal law), or if you are in any way impaired at work due to marijuana (the same way an employee can be fired for being drunk or badly hung-over and impaired at work, even if he/she drank on his/her own time), or for using marijuana at work.
And if the employer receives any federal funds or has any federal contracts, since again, marijuana is illegal under federal law, they could terminate you for any use of medical marijuana, even if you don't bring it to work and are not impaired at work--they can't have employees who would test positive for it.
In addition, there are some jobs where you can't use any intoxicating substance, even medicinally, which would include medical marijuana or prescription pain killers, like pilot, certain jobs with CDLs, certain heavy equipment operators, etc. Here, too, you could be terminated for using medical marijuana, even on your own time.
But if you don't believe that your situation falls under one of the situations described above where you could be terminated, if you are fired, contact your state's department of labor or equal/civil rights agency.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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