If you live in a legal state, you might think that passing a work-related drug test for legal cannabis might be a thing of the past. But, recent reports have shown that this might not be the case when it comes to workers compensation. Say you live in California, are a recreational or medicinal cannabis user, and you end up getting hurt. Whether it be a fall, a broken bone, or even just a sprain— you put in a workers compensation claim just like anyone else. But, your cannabis use can be a big problem when it comes down to it. But how does that work? And how can a state that legalizes marijuana, also deny claims for those who use it?

Legal Cannabis and Workers Compensation

The number of cannabis users in legal states increases every day. It’s a medicine, it’s a fun-substance, and it’s part of many peoples daily lives. In turn, it is also typically still in the system of someone who actively uses it. This can be a big problem when it comes down to taking that drug test that comes along with a workers compensation claim.

The problem with workers compensation drug tests

Anyone who actively consumes marijuana knows that it doesn’t leave your system in a flash. Ultimately, cannabis can still be present in your system for weeks or months. So, taking drug test after a workers comp claim can be big trouble for someone, even if they weren’t under the influence at the time. It could even be a problem for someone that hasn’t used it in weeks.

But, how does this work in a legal state?

When it comes to matters of workers compensation claims, federal law presides over state law. So, even if recreational cannabis is legal— federally, you are still in the wrong. Just as dispensaries have problems with putting money into banks (a federal system), workers compensation claims still answer to federal regulation. So, until those laws update, if they do, your claims are still liable to be denied.

A potential solution

The biggest problem with legal cannabis and workers compensation, is the lag when it comes to that drug test. Ultimately, a worker can lose the right to being treated for a work related injury even if they haven’t used cannabis in weeks. Legal cannabis, like alcohol, is something that is allowed by the state and should not be subject to work-related penalty if it isn’t interfering with work. So, what about a short-time drug test? A saliva test measures the last few days. Therefore, it would be able to better tell if the worker was under the influence.

Ultimately, a proper decision must be and legal cannabis should only interfere with work in the same way alcohol would. If you use it at work, you’re subject to termination or penalty. But, in a state that legalized recreational usage— recreational usage, should not interfere with the workplace.