Whether you’re trying to get your medical marijuana card for the first time or you’ve been using cannabis as a healing tool for some time, career transitions can bring up important questions about legality and eligibility. It’s time to set the record straight: Can you get a government job if you have a medical marijuana card?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t cut and dried. If you’re looking for federal employment, your options are likely limited since marijuana remains federally illegal. But depending on your state’s marijuana legislation and the employment regulations of your local government (i.e., county and city entities), you could be eligible for a government job if you’re using medical cannabis. The rules can also depend on the type of position to which you’re applying.
In this guide, we’re helping government job-seekers find positions compatible with their healing journey.
First, let’s quickly review how governments across the nation view marijuana:
Considering all of this, you might be thinking, “Government employment with a medical marijuana card sounds complicated.” Unfortunately, this is true.
Luckily, your jurisdiction (i.e., the agency you’re looking to work for) matters a great deal when it comes to the legality of using medical cannabis. Let’s break down how institutions and agencies vary concerning hiring people with medical cards.
There are two important elements to note about city or county government jobs:
People seeking employment with state government agencies (their state’s Department of Agriculture, for instance) should keep the above considerations in mind as well. Just because weed is legal (for medical or recreational use) in your state doesn’t mean that the agencies hiring on behalf of the state can’t create their hiring policies.
This is why, for any job, reading the fine print is critical. We’ll dive into how to approach the job search as a medical marijuana user in a later section.
Luckily (or, perhaps, unluckily for medical cannabis users), federal employment regulations are pretty straightforward. Many federal agencies directly stipulate that applicants who test positive for marijuana won’t be hired (and, in some cases, may even be barred from applying in the future).
The following federal entities (and others) have explicitly stated that medical cards do not exempt applicants from marijuana testing:
With the DOD in mind, you might be wondering: Does having a medical marijuana card disqualify you from military service? While you can read more in our in-depth guide to enlistment and marijuana use, the short answer is that the military does not allow employees to use cannabis, even if they have a medical card.
Let’s say that your state allows medical marijuana. Will you be eligible for every state, county, or city government job? Probably not. Let’s dive into which types of positions typically still require applicants to pass a marijuana screening—even in states with legalization.
Even in jurisdictions that have passed laws forbidding discrimination against legal cannabis users during the hiring process (New York City, for instance), some positions may still require a drug test for qualification.
In New York City, for example, the law says that agencies may still test applicants for marijuana if they’re applying for certain jobs, including:
If you’re considering applying for a government job in a state with legalized marijuana use, you should still read the fine print for positions like those listed above and jobs in:
Since jobs like these require employees to care for others or operate heavy machinery, jurisdictions often have grounds to disqualify anyone using intoxicating substances—even under legal circumstances.
On the other hand, states or local jurisdictions that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana (respectively) may not require cannabis screening for employees in some positions.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, some potential positions could include:
Since these positions don’t require workers to protect the bodily safety of others or demand the use of heavy machinery, some jurisdictions may not drug test for these positions. However, we can’t guarantee that, so be sure to do your research before applying for a job.
What does that research look like?
If you do need to move on from government positions, where should you turn when you’re looking for employment?
Here are some options for workers in various industries:
The simple truth is that finding a new job can be difficult for people who choose to heal with medical cannabis. Government jobs that accept medical cards can be few and far between, but this isn’t the case for all positions. And if you’re struggling to find government work, you may have ample opportunities in the private sector.
We understand that choosing an unconventional path can pose complications; that’s why TeleLeaf is here to help you navigate every challenge on your healing journey. If you’re ready to finally unlock the recovery you deserve, we can help you discover options that work for your lifestyle and goals—that’s what makes us the best online medical marijuana card service provider in the industry.
Ready to carve out your path with support from licensed providers? Schedule your first appointment with TeleLeaf today.
US Department of Agriculture. Federal Employees and Marijuana Use: What You Need to Know
Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Fact Sheet: Marijuana/Cannabis
US Food and Drug Administration. Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill
University of Georgia Alexander Campbell King Law Library. Survey of Marijuana Law in the United States: Decriminalization of Marijuana
Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI Employment Eligibility
Central Intelligence Agency. Ask Molly: Illegal Drug Use and Employment at the CIA