Medical Cannabis & Employment

Summary of key points:

  • Medical Cannabis is legally prescribed.
  • Cannabis patients have rights.
  • Medical cannabis use is protected by law.
  • Access Kaneh can provide advice on policy development.

Company policy needs to be updated to keep up to date with the changes in the law.

Is your company policy reflecting the changes in legislation surrounding medical cannabis?

An increasing number of people are being prescribed medical cannabis for a wide range of conditions. There are documented cases of employees who have been dismissed for cannabis use who then go to Employment tribunals and win because they have been prescribed medical cannabis.

So, what does HR need to know?

  • Medical Cannabis can only be prescribed by a General Medical Council consultant.
  • Medical Cannabis has to be used as prescribed by the consultant.
  • Medical Cannabis flower can only be vaporised and CANNOT be smoked.
  • All Medical Cannabis prescriptions will advise that operating machinery and driving will be affected.

Companies will need to adopt policies to reflect the new wider use of Medical Cannabis. Employees using medical cannabis may be classified as disabled and may need to medicate during the day the company may need to provide safe consumption areas other than the outdoor smoking areas.

Company policy should be flexible enough to accommodate all potential aspects of medical use. The policy could also incorporate provisions for employees that develop illicit problem cannabis use to look at enrolment on medical cannabis programs to ensure monitoring and promotion of responsible medical use.

The policy will need to address the possible impairment of employees through the use of medical cannabis. But the policy must be wide enough to recognise all cannabis is not the same. There are now many medical cannabis products in the UK formulary. These can range from CBD medications that have little psychoactive impact to high THC medications that can cause impairment. It should be noted all cannabis is not the same.

Where policy addresses impairment it needs to document:

  • What behaviours or events constitutes reasonable suspicion of intoxication.
  • Expectations around “off-duty” use (zero-tolerance, medical only, or illicit).
  • The authority under which you have the right to subject an employee to a drug test.

Any company now has to recognise legal access to Medical Cannabis is increasing and its use is protected by law. Companies can no longer assume all cannabis use is illegal and breaking regulations.