You can’t use marijuana legally in Kansas, but health care providers have pot on their minds.
The Wichita Business Coalition on Health Care featured marijuana in the workplace Thursday during its annual roundtable conference.
“We always like to focus on trends at the roundtable, and the topic of marijuana kept coming up,” said Janet Hamous, executive director for the coalition. “We thought about how ill-prepared we are in this state if we end up with medical marijuana.”
Vance Knapp, a Denver attorney who specializes in labor and employment law, led a presentation about how medical marijuana affects health care providers.
“It’s not a question of if it’s going to be legalized, I think it’s a question of when it’s going to be legalized,” he said.
But in the meantime, he said, Kansas employers might face issues when employees use pot legally in Colorado, or other states with recreational use, and test positive on drug tests back in Kansas. His solution: zero-tolerance policies.
“In my mind, if you can educate your workforce on what your expectations are, even when they’re off duty, off premise, even when they’re in Colorado, I think that eliminates a lot of uncertainty and can really be helpful,” Knapp said.
And even though you can’t light up a medical joint in Kansas, Knapp said to go ahead and throw medical marijuana into your drug policy, too.
He suggests adding a clause that states the company “does not permit the possession, distribution or use of illegal substances (including medical and recreational marijuana)” to eliminate confusion about marijuana.
Because the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, employers still have the right to fire employees for using it – even for medical use.
“If an employer has solid policies in place, it may be easier to deal with than what I originally anticipated,” Hamous said. “If you have policies that you can stick to, then it isn’t that complicated.”
With home-based care becoming more and more popular, Knapp said, Colorado health care providers face issues with patients smoking while workers are in the house.
“You don’t want to create a situation where someone can hide behind the fact that their patient is using when they’re using it themself,” he said.
Colorado hospitals also have had to deal with patients trying to use pot in the hospital, sometimes in hospice or in long-term treatment.
“That’s something to be aware of,” he said. “You may have patients who come to your facilities – who went to Colorado and got marijuana – and want to use it as part of their treatment.”