Oklahoma is one of 16 states (plus Washington, DC) that generally prohibit an employer from discriminating against an applicant or employee who uses medical marijuana. But, in life and legislation, the devil is in the details.
Before you get too comfy celebrating your rights with daily wake-and-bakes or vape breaks at work, let’s break down the blunt truth Tokelahomans must know about their rights in the workplace under HB 2612, dubbed the Unity Bill:
1. Medicating at Work
“Employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use of medical marijuana on the property or premises of any place of employment or during hours of employment.”
Your employer isn’t required to let you medicate on-the-job. Now, I’m no ‘marijuana lawyer’ with hipster hair who wears blackout shades indoors, but the words “not required” sound like an opportunity! How cool are you with your boss? Ask, and you might receive (I did)! Don’t ask, and you might receive a pink slip for using medical marijuana at work. Do us all a favor: If you get the Yes to medicate at work, don’t become the stereotypical office stoner. Be extra awesome and productive, or you’ll make the rest of us look bad.
2. Drug Testing
No employer may refuse to hire, discipline, discharge or otherwise penalize an applicant or employee solely on the basis of a positive test for marijuana components or metabolites, unless:
a. the applicant or employee is not in possession of a valid medical marijuana license,
b. the licensee possesses, consumes or is under the influence of medical marijuana or medical marijuana product while at the place of employment or during the fulfillment of employment obligations, or
c. the position is one involving safety-sensitive job duties.
The key point, here, is you must get off your ass and get your OMMA card to enjoy any protections under the law. Oklahoma employers cannot discipline or fire (or not hire) a licensed MMJ patient just because they test positive for marijuana, so long as they are not busted being high at work and the position is not deemed “safety-sensitive.” Federal employees do not enjoy this same right and likely won’t, until President Bernie Sanders legalizes marijuana on his first day in office. A girl can dream…
3. “Safety-Sensitive” Positions
“…any job that includes tasks or duties that the employer reasonably believes could affect the safety and health of the employee performing the task or others…”
If you use medical marijuana, you basically can’t work with moving vehicles, machinery or chemicals; dispense pharmaceuticals; shoot a gun; or play with babies, kids or old people. That seems reasonable to me. I really don’t want my kid’s teacher to be high. Especially if they start carrying guns!
4. Wrongful Termination
“An applicant or employee aggrieved by a willful violation of this section shall have, as his or her exclusive remedy, the same remedies as provided for in the Oklahoma Standards for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act set forth in Section 563 of Title 40 of the Oklahoma Statutes.”
Some employers won’t agree with the will of the people. Some will even think they are above the law. That’s why it’s so important that Oklahoma’s Unity Bill expressly provides recourse for medical marijuana patients, should a failed drug test lead to a wrongful termination. If this happens to you, find an employment lawyer who knows their shit and can guide you through how much time you have to file a lawsuit and how much money you might be awarded for lost wages and other damages.
Bottom line: Be responsible. Stay current with your OMMA card. Be honest with your employer/future employer. Look for jobs that aren’t “safety-sensitive” with companies that operate in other marijuana-friendly states. Or, better yet, look for a gig in the marijuana industry — they don’t call it the Green Rush for nothin’.