Monday, July 26, 2010
Employers and Medical Marijuana
Employers should follow the lead of the federal Veteran's Administration.
This month the VA announced that it will draw a "clear distinction between the use of illegal drugs and legal medical marijuana."
The VA will not penalize medical marijuana patients who are treating validly under their states' laws.
Similarly, employers should revise their workplace drug policies to make a clear distinction between the use of legal medical marijuana and illegal drugs with no legitimate medical purposes. They should distinguish between treatments and abuse.
Some managers are being forced by corporate headquarters to fire workers who treat at home with medical marijuana, when they know that these workers have been stellar performers with absolutely no problems at work.
Employers are losing valuable employees because of their outdated "zero tolerance" drug policies that fail to account for legitimate medical treatments.
These unenlightened policies are based on false information from outdated stereotypes of medical marijuana that ignored the scientific proof that marijuana is safe and beneficial and treats a multitude of illnesses and pain.
Recent studies confirm that marijuana is a safer alternative to some of the pharmaceuticals that produce horrific side effects, often far worse than the original disease. Yet some employers are stuck in the old mentality that falsely lumped medical marijuana in with narcotics as an unsafe treatment, or worse yet, just a drug to be abused.
It is unethical to deprive patients of very beneficial medical treatments based on the fear of abuse. Any drug can be abused. Would it be logical to deprive people of prescription medications since they can be abused? Would it be right to deprive them of their jobs?
Employers can step up now and follow the lead of the VA in recognizing the difference between state-sanctioned medical marijuana treatments and illicit drugs. State-sanctioned medical marijuana should be treated as other medical treatments, and should not be used to deprive good workers of their livelihoods.