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Can You Be a Teacher with a Medical Marijuana Card?

  • Depending on your state’s laws and your employment contract, you may be able to become a teacher if you use medical cannabis.
  • But, every state, every district, and every school is different—be sure to read the fine print before starting medical marijuana treatment.

Whether you’re a veteran teacher or a prospective educator, your career choice could impact your access to medical cannabis, depending on your state’s laws, your employment contract, your school’s policies, and your district’s regulations.

Can you be a teacher if you have a medical marijuana card? The answer isn’t cut and dried.

That’s why we’re breaking down the minutiae in this guide for current and future teachers looking to circumvent the Western medicine route for a path to all-natural healing.

We’ll break down considerations for teachers interested in medical marijuana, key differences between school types, and the importance of securing written authorization if needed.

Let’s dive in.

Considerations for Teachers Interested in Medical Cannabis

There are three key sources of information you should consult before starting a medical cannabis treatment plan during (or before) your teaching career: your state’s legislation, your employment contract, and your school’s (or district’s) HR expert.

Review Your State Laws

For most people, state laws are the determining factor when it comes to medical cannabis access. While marijuana remains federally illegal, numerous states have legalized cannabis for either adult (recreational) or medical use.

Before using marijuana for the first time or pursuing your medical card, consider:

  1. The status of marijuana in your state: recreationally legal, medically legal, decriminalized (meaning that punishments for possession and use are limited), or criminalized (meaning punishments are severe).
  2. What kinds of marijuana products are legal in your state?

For instance, the 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized the growth, processing, purchase, possession, and use of hemp for all American adults.

Hemp is a sub-type of marijuana that contains less than 0.3% THC content (the compound that produces the “high” associated with cannabis). Hemp is a CBD-forward product with numerous healing applications—and since it’s federally legal, you’re likely safe to use it no matter your profession.

But if you’re interested in using THC products as a part of your health journey, you’ll need to find out if you can legally access these products in your state.

Read Your Contract

In addition to legal access, you’ll also need to read up on your district’s and school’s employment regulations—you can likely find some answers in your employment contract.

Even if your state has legalized or decriminalized cannabis to some extent, you may still be subject to drug screenings (including tests for THC) as part of your employment contract. Your contract may stipulate:

  • Random drug tests at an unpredictable frequency
  • Drug screening upon hire
  • Drug testing upon suspicion of workplace intoxication or workplace injury
  • Drug screenings at regular intervals (e.g., monthly or quarterly)

Keep in mind that, even if your state allows cannabis use under certain circumstances, your employer may still stipulate that a positive screening for THC is grounds for termination. State laws don’t always provide employment protections.

Speak to Your HR Department

If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for in your contract or employee handbook, consider speaking with your school’s or district’s HR department. Consider treading lightly if you take this route; until you establish a trusting relationship with someone in this department, keep as much information confidential as possible.

Here are some questions you can ask:

  • What is the [school/district’s] medical marijuana policy?
  • Are teachers in this [school/district] allowed to have medical marijuana cards?
  • Does the [school/district] drug screening include a test for THC?

These questions are general; they might imply that you’re interested in medical cannabis, but they’re not an admission of guilt.

Of course, the best approach is to ask someone you can trust. Consider developing a strong professional relationship with someone in your district before asking hard-hitting questions about cannabis.

Public vs. Private vs. Charter Schools

Of course, your school’s restrictions on medical cannabis can vary based on the type of school that employs you. Let’s break down how teachers might approach medical cannabis in different school contexts.

Public School Considerations

If you work for a public school, you may receive special legal protections as a public sector employee. States where marijuana has been legalized can take one of a few approaches to this (and these are subject to change):

  • State employers are protected – Some states have ruled that public sector employees can’t be discriminated against, terminated, or punished if they test positive for THC and meet the state’s criteria for legal consumption (i.e., have a medical card).
  • State employees are not protected – Other states have stipulated that some public sector departments may still test applicants and employees for THC—and dismiss them upon a positive test despite state legality.
  • State legislation is unclear – States with new medical cannabis programs may not stipulate whether or not public sector employment laws conform to the state’s marijuana laws. These regulations can take time to iron out—and they can change over time.

If you’re a public school teacher, read up on your state’s approach to employment protections for medical cannabis patients working in the public sector.

Private School Considerations

Like public school teachers, private school educators are also subject to their state’s employment protections—but the ones that govern private sector hiring, not public sector employment.

Since private schools (in most cases) aren’t funded with taxpayer money or state funds, they’re not subject to as much state oversight. This can be positive, negative, or totally irrelevant for teachers considering medical cannabis:

  • Private schools may allow teachers to do as they wish in their private time; in other words, they may not test employees for THC (or other compounds) even if weed hasn’t been legalized in their state.
  • Private schools could also enforce stricter regulations—especially in states where private sector employees don’t have legal protections related to medical cannabis.
  • Private institutions may not opt to include anything about cannabis in their employment contracts or employee handbooks.

It’s also worth noting that, in some circumstances, private school teachers may have more limited access to free legal representation through a union or state agency. Teachers should keep this in mind if their private school’s policies are vague.

Charter School Considerations

Charter schools are like private schools: they’re not subject to as much state oversight as public schools, so their employees may be less (or more) protected from legal consequences related to medical cannabis.

This is where it gets complex: charter schools are publicly funded but privately administered—so are charter school teachers subject to public or private sector laws surrounding medical cannabis?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t black and white. The best approach for charter school teachers is to look for clear directives in their employment contract, speak to their school’s HR expert, or review their school’s charter agreement (a document that stipulates school policies).

Written Authorization

In cases where legal protections are unclear, getting written authorization from your employer is a good first line of defense for potential conflicts. Depending on your school type and administrative structure, it might make sense to get written permission from:

  • The school principal
  • Your HR department
  • A school district official
  • The headmaster, chief administrator, or board of directors (in private/charter schools)

While written authorization won’t allow you to break the law if marijuana isn’t currently legal in your state, it is a good option for teachers in states with legalized marijuana who face unclear employee protections or who work in charter schools.

Discover Plant-Based Healing with Medical Cannabis

If you’re a current or prospective teacher and medical cannabis is an option for you, you might be wondering: How much does it cost to get your medical marijuana card? Is the process time-consuming? Where do you start?

TeleLeaf is here to help. As the best online medical marijuana card service provider on the market, we’re committed to helping people from all backgrounds reach their health goals with cannabis.

We’ve seen the positive results of medical marijuana treatment first hand—we know how transformative it can be, and we want to help you access the healing you deserve.

Ready to start your journey with medical cannabis? Make an appointment now.


Sources:

The Brookings Institute. The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer.
https://www.brookings.edu/articles/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/

Education Weekly. What Are Charter Schools?.
https://www.edweek.org/policy-politics/what-are-charter-schools/2018/08

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