If you have a medical marijuana card, then you might be a bit nervous about the mention of background checks. However legal cannabis may be across the United States, it’s still uncertain if your consumption can land you in trouble or out of a job. Even though you need it for medical purposes, it’s not easy beating the stigma surrounding marijuana. The easiest way to stay under the radar is to stay in the know about your current state laws and be responsible for keeping your medical marijuana use a secret.
What is Medical Marijuana and Why would anyone need it?
On a federal level, marijuana in the United States is still considered a Schedule I substance and therefore illegal. However, state-wide policies have been regularly amended and added to include the consumption of the plant for its health benefits.
Medical marijuana has become a huge part of today’s health conversation and the estimate for cardholders is already over two million. Currently legal in twenty-nine states, along with District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the US has been making progress towards decriminalizing the plant and understanding its assistance in medical breakthroughs.
Dubbed the “cannabis without the high”, medical marijuana does not have the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) responsible for the “high’ normally associated with the plant. Instead, the other components are what experts believe could help relieve people suffering from things like anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, epilepsy seizures, and even depression. For any of these reasons, if you live in a legalized state, your doctor is able to write you a medical marijuana recommendation letter. This letter can then lead you to your state-issued medical marijuana card.
Medical Marijuana and Background Checks
It’s already pretty nerve-racking to hear the words background check. Even if you’re all in the clear and have nothing to worry about, the thought of having someone uncover your past has some discomfort. If you use medical marijuana and background checks are unavoidable, though consumption may be legal in your state, chances are you’ll still worry.
Will medical marijuana show up on a background check?
The short answer is no.
Your medical marijuana card will not show up on your background checks. Because your state-issued card can only be obtained by a doctor’s medical recommendation, that information is protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). That means that the law prevents any institution from sharing this letter and any other personal health information about you to a third party.
So in the same way someone is denied access to your health records, they will be denied access your medical cannabis information also.
Though the status of your consumption may be kept confidential under HIPPA, it’s important to know that the state-issued card is not. Even so, state officials aren’t allowed to access that information nor provide it to employers. There is no way of accessing the data without authorization and your personal information like social security number is not attached.
That means, when you head to a dispensary, they can only access the database to see if your card is valid but nothing else concerning your health or personal information.
So, do employers know if you have a medical marijuana card after they run a background check for you?
No, they do not.
Under no circumstance is your employer able to gain access to that kind of confidential information. Neither will a future landlord or bank lender have access to it either. Even if you use the company’s doctor and it is uncovered in your medical report, the doctor is not at liberty to share this confidential information with your employer.
Your information is well protected, though it’s your responsibility to use common sense and keep your cannabis consumption under the radar.
Even if your employer is not able to get their hands on your medical cannabis records, it doesn’t mean you should forget about using some discretion towards your circumstances.
For example, it’s not the best idea to frequent a cannabis dispensary near your workplace where a co-worker or supervisor can see you entering or exiting the building. Nor is it a smart idea to portray your consumption on social media platforms. People talk and it may get around back to your boss.
It’s also useful to keep in mind that even while your background check doesn’t reveal your marijuana consumption, a random drug test will. It’s common for some employers to administer drug tests before and even sometimes after they’ve hired employees. Because federal law still states marijuana is illegal, in all forms, if you fail a work-mandated drug test, you can be fired despite having a prescription. Currently, only Arizona and Delaware have laws against companies taking adverse action against employees for medical marijuana use (as long as it does not impact their job). Other states do not afford such protection. For example, Colorado court ruled in favor of terminating employees for medical marijuana use.
Be smart about your cannabis consumption and take steps to keep work as professional as possible.
Just in Case
If you’re still unconvinced about the confidentiality of the HIPPA, a great way to find out if your medical card shows up is by giving yourself a background check. You can uncover everything an employer will have access to and it’s a pretty easy process. The first step is finding one of the best background check websites and filling out your information. You would only need your name, social security number and just like that, you’ll have the same report your boss, landlord or bank lender will see.
Even though medical marijuana is legal in many states, and some states are still making progressive steps towards decriminalization, stay in the know. As a cannabis consumer, it’s your responsibility to keep your consumption under wraps and while your health records will be padlocked from anyone on the outside looking in, use discretion, some common sense and stay tuned to your state’s legislation changes.