Employer Policies on Medical Marijuana Use: Navigating Conflicting Federal and State Laws

Avoiding ADA Liability, Applying Workers' Comp Laws, and Amending Drug Policies

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will equip employment counsel with the practical techniques needed to navigate a growing challenge to develop and implement policies on medical use of marijuana (if legal under state law) by employees. Our experienced panelists will outline strategic techniques to avoid disability discrimination liability, navigate inconsistencies among state and federal laws regarding marijuana use, and ensure that employer policies are updated to reflect the current and evolving landscape on state marijuana laws.


Marijuana usage for medical purposes has been approved in 23 states and the DOJ’s current Guidance Regarding Marijuana Enforcement effectively defers enforcement in states allowing medical use of the Schedule I substance.

As the number of states adopting medical marijuana laws continues to build (four states also permit the sale and use of recreational marijuana), employers must review their employee policies and procedures regarding drug testing, drug-free workplace compliance, and accommodation of employees using cannabis under medical supervision.

Appropriate employer policies on employee medical marijuana use will depend on numerous factors, such as the workplace context, where the employer’s facilities are located, and specifics of the state’s medical (or recreational use) marijuana law. In crafting and implementing policies, counsel must provide guidance to employers, particularly for multi-state companies, through a shifting landscape of nuanced and conflicting differences in legal standards based on state medical marijuana laws, federal law, and the applicability of state disability discrimination laws and ADA accommodations.

Counsel to employers must also review ADA policies and procedures, as well as applying disciplinary and termination policies in a situation involving employees and medical or recreational marijuana legalized in a particular jurisdiction. As momentum for states to adopt such laws builds, counsel must also be vigilant in monitoring laws in all states where clients have operations.

Listen as our distinguished panel discusses techniques for handling the dramatic inconsistencies between federal and state law, termination and discrimination pursuant to the ADA, and best practices for reviewing and revising drug testing policies.



  1. Medical use statutes and their qualifications and limitations
  2. Recreational use statutes and their qualifications and limitations
  3. Federal statutes
    1. Controlled substances Act
  4. ADA implications
  5. Interaction with employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements
  6. Interaction with state unemployment laws and workers’ comp
  7. Future expectations


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What factors should counsel consider when reviewing and revising employer drug use policies to reflect medical marijuana statutes passed across the U.S.?
  • What are the ADA and state disability discrimination implications on terminating employees who use medical marijuana and how can employers avoid liability?
  • How will state statutes interact with employment contracts, workers’ compensation laws and collective bargaining agreements?
  • How will state laws be applied which protect lawful off duty activities?
  • What are effective approaches for counsel to multi-state companies in reconciling differing state statutes and conflicts with federal law?


Lawrence P. Postol
Lawrence P. Postol

Seyfarth Shaw

Mr. Postol concentrates his practice in the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Practice. He has defended...  |  Read More

Zwisler, David
David L. Zwisler

Of Counsel
Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart

Mr. Zwisler’s broad range of labor and employment experience includes overseeing and conducting comprehensive...  |  Read More

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