Medical Marijuana in the Texas Workplace
November 20, 2018
Weed in the Texas work place: What are the laws on marijuana use and how do they apply to drug testing?
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized comprehensive public/medical marijuana/cannabis programs. With the recent midterm elections, Michigan legalized recreational marijuana use, joining 9 other U.S. states, Washington DC, Canada and Uruguay in launching a regulated marijuana market.
The changes in laws across the country relative to the use of marijuana have many Texas employers scratching their heads in confusion on whether to drug test for cannabis, or not.
“As an advocate for occupational or work place medicine, it’s important for Texas MedClinic to provide the facts as we know it and share with employers, so they can make sound decisions on the practices of drug testing,” said Texas MedClinic Chief Operating Officer and practicing physician Dr. David Gude.
So, where does Texas law stand on marijuana?
Texas law prohibits recreational use of marijuana. The Compassionate Care Act of 2015 allows medicinal use of marijuana to those suffering from intractable epilepsy. Medical marijuana in Texas can not be used to treat cancer, Alzheimers, PTSD or any other conditions typically allowed in medical-friendly states.
So, what is CBD oil and is it legal in Texas?
CBD oil, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, is a compound of the cannabis plant that has become popular across the country among people suffering from chronic pain. CBD oil does not contain THC, the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana. Researchers have been studying CBD oil’s impact, benefits and risks relative to specific diseases, and some believe there are significant medical benefits.
It’s only legal in Texas if you suffer from intractable epilepsy, and only if you meet requirements outlined in the Compassionate Care Act. To learn more go to https://www.texastribune.org/2018/02/05/medical-marijuana-dispensaries-are-opening-will-shortage-doctors-keep-/
How do these medical marijuana laws impact drug testing in the work place in Texas?
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the regulating agency for those who operate heavy machinery like bus drivers, truck drivers, construction workers, airplane pilots, requires a DOT drug panel annually that includes marijuana, among other drugs.
Federal law still considers marijuana an illegal Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. It does not matter if the state for which the drug test is administered has legalized marijuana or its derivatives for medical or recreational use, as the DOT’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation does not authorize medical or recreational marijuana use.
“Businesses or organizations who employ those who operate heavy machinery must follow the federal DOT guidelines,” said Gude.
For those employers who are not required to follow DOT guidelines and administer drug testing as company or organizational policy to ensure safety in the workplace, regulations vary per industry.
The Texas Workforce Commission provides guidelines for organizations or businesses administering a drug-testing program.
With a large occupational medicine practice, serving hundreds of employers in the central and south Texas area, Texas MedClinic provides a variety of drug and alcohol testing options that are convenient, affordable and comfortable for the patient/employee.
“Medical marijuana has been a topic of conversation among occupational medicine providers for years,” said Gude. “Employers have inquired: Do we continue to test for marijuana when states have legalized its use, both medicinally and recreationally?”
“We encourage organizations or businesses to align with what works best relative to their drug-testing policy,” said Gude. “For those organizations who voluntarily administer a drug-testing program who want to remove marijuana from their drug panel screening, there are no laws preventing them from doing so,” said Gude.
Clearing the smoke on medical marijuana cards in Texas
There are no medical marijuana cards in Texas. As stated in the Compassionate Care Act of 2015, CBD prescriptions are limited to residents who suffer from intractable epilepsy. Patients are entered into the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) by their qualified physician.
Texas MedClinic offer drug testing services. You can walk into any clinic, or check-in online.
Texas MedClinic was established in 1982 by Dr. Bernard T. Swift, Jr., as a group medical practice that specializes in urgent care and occupational medicine. Texas MedClinic has grown to 13 locations in San Antonio, two in New Braunfels, one in Spring Branch, two in Austin and one in Round Rock. Texas MedClinic is staffed with 82 medical providers including physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners and over 450 employees.14