Unfortunately, the legalization of medical marijuana in many states around the country has not made its use entirely risk free. While you might be able to obtain marijuana for medicinal purposes without risking a jail sentence, the ongoing criminalization of cannabis at the federal level – as well as the stigmatization and prejudice attached to it by many employers – make it a wise decision to keep its use private.
But is that possible?
Will a Medical Marijuana Recommendation Letter Show Up on a Background Check?
The first step in being able to purchase medical marijuana is to see your doctor and have them write you a prescription. This prescription – usually referred to as a medical marijuana recommendation letter – is what you must take to the dispensary in order to certify your need to medical marijuana.
A medical marijuana recommendation letter is considered a part of your medical history, and as such is completely covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA prohibits your doctor from disclosing your medical information to anyone without your explicit consent. If an employer were to come asking about your medical history, it would be illegal for a physician’s office to arbitrarily disclose any information.
Of course, your doctor’s office is not the only place storing records that could tie you back to medical marijuana use. The dispensary you use to fill the prescription will also keep a record of the transaction. Nonetheless, your choice to share your information with the medical dispensary doesn’t negate physician-patient privilege. If an employer comes to a dispensary looking for your records, it is against the law for the dispensary to release it to them.
How Do You Keep Medical Marijuana Use Discreet?
Although there are protections against potential employers snooping through your medical records, there are still ways they can learn about medical marijuana use if you aren’t careful. HIPAA doesn’t eliminate the need for common sense.
Employers CAN Still Hold Marijuana Use Against You
Keep in mind that employers are completely within their legal rights to submit applicants to a drug test, and use the results to refuse employment. This means that if you have marijuana in your system – even legally – you can be turned away. Therefore, if you know you are going to be subjected to a drug test, you should not be using marijuana. Having a letter from a physician will not give you a case in employment court.
Be Smart Online
Users of medical marijuana do have a certain sense of community – especially online. While it’s fine to engage with it, it should always be done anonymously. Don’t post in forums under your real name, ever. Similarly, don’t send out tweets advertising your marijuana use, or follow accounts promoting it. If you’re uncertain as to what degree your past social media blunders might be visible to those who are researching you, run an online background check and take a look at what it turns up. If you can see it, so can everyone else.