It’s understandably difficult sometimes to speak to someone, especially your employer, about medical cannabis. In most cases, unless your medical condition or medication presents a health and safety risk to yourself and others at work, you are under no obligation to disclose your medical condition or medication for that condition. However, speaking with your employer will allow them to support you and protect you where possible.
Disability discrimination is protected. This includes your medical condition and any medication you have been prescribed for that condition. Under the Equality Act of 2010, your employer must do what they reasonably can to support you at work, including work adjustments and protecting you from harassment and discrimination.
Knowing your rights and protections at work doesn’t always make it easier to discuss your medical information with your employer, especially when talking about medical cannabis. It can be a difficult subject to navigate, and you may feel a range of emotions, maybe even feeling embarrassed or ashamed. It’s normal to feel some worry, but it’s important to remember that you are doing the best for you and your health. You have a medical condition and have been prescribed your medication through a specialist doctor.
If you want to talk to your employer, it can be helpful to write a plan of what you want to say, along with supporting documents from your specialist doctor.
You should first plan when would be best to speak to your employer and who you may want your information to be shared with. Perhaps just a one-to-one meeting would work best for you, or maybe you might be allowed support from a colleague or family member.
Knowing how to start the conversation and how many details you want to share can also be helpful. Some useful information you may want to share can include:
The level of detail you give is up to you and your comfort level, and you only need to discuss aspects that impact your work life, such as driving or operating heavy machinery. Your employer should keep the information you provide confidential unless you:
However, many of these details will relate to your medical condition and not your specific medication, so you may find you only need to speak to your employer directly about your medical cannabis prescription.
It is not illegal to take prescribed medication at work. This includes medical cannabis. However, you must always take your medical cannabis as prescribed by your specialist doctor, and you may want to have easy access to your prescription in case you need it.
Your employer has a duty of care to yourself and your co-workers, so while you are allowed to take your medical cannabis at work as prescribed, you should let your employer know if your medication is likely to impact your work or safety.
If you feel impaired after administering your medication it is important not to drive or operate heavy machinery.
If your employer does drug testing, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from your medical cannabis would likely produce a positive result. Even if you are unaffected by your medication, you can still test positive for over 28 days after taking it. In these instances, it’s best to inform your employer beforehand, so they are aware of your medication. In addition, you can show them documentation from the clinic, such as your most recent clinic letter.
Some jobs may not allow any trace of THC, even if you aren’t experiencing side effects. You’ll likely know if this includes your profession, but you can also always check your employment contract for clarification.
Here are some other commonly asked questions about medical cannabis which you could give to your employer if they have further queries.
If you feel that you haven’t been properly heard or understood or feel that you may be experiencing discrimination or a lack of support from your employer, here are some helpful organisations that can support you further.