Companies with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to a worker with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Current illegal drug users are exempt from the law’s coverage. Therefore, if an employee is actively using marijuana and requests a reasonable accommodation to use marijuana for a medical condition, that worker no longer has rights under the ADA because the employee is an active illegal drug user under federal law.
A person recovering from illegal drug use is covered by the ADA, however, permitting a recovering addict to use the illegal drug would not be a reasonable accommodation. There is no scenario under which an employer must permit an employee to use marijuana as a reasonable accommodation under current federal law.
Many employers conduct drug tests either pre-employment or during employment, including random tests or following an accident.
Employers will need to consider how to address applicants or employees who test positive for the presence of THC.
Marijuana metabolizes differently than other substances, so it will be difficult for employers to determine if an individual is currently under the influence of marijuana.
For example, the presence of exposure to cocaine is eliminated in a single day after use, according to the Mayo Clinic Laboratories. However, the presence the chemical that indicates exposure to THC can become evident in a urine drug test within three days after a single use, and up to approximately 30 days in heavy chronic users, the Mayo Clinic Laboratories said.