Since 2014, Minnesota has had the Medical Cannabis Act on the books. Essentially the law allows medical cannabis in the state, restricts who can utilize the program and what types of delivery methods are protected under the act. Most interestingly though, the Act also includes specific employment protections for qualified patients.

Although cannabis and marijuana products remain illegal according to federal law, as of February 2021, 39 states plus Washington D.C. have decriminalized medical marijuana. An additional 5 states have passed laws allowing medical use of hemp derived CBD oil products.[1]

How popular is the Minnesota Medical Marijuana program?

As of February 2022, the Minnesota Medical Marijuana Registry has over 58,000 patients enrolled in the program. That number is expected to grow exponentially following the law change to allow flower marijuana to be used for patients due to the fact flower marijuana is a less expensive alternative to other delivery methods and is geared toward the middle to lower income patients seeking medical marijuana treatment options.

Relevant Updates to the Medical Cannabis Act- Effective March 1, 2022

  • Prohibits smoking medical cannabis in any public place or place of employment. Minn. Stat. §152.23(a)(3).
  • The definition of medical cannabis is amended to allow delivery of medical cannabis via combustion of dried raw cannabis. Minn. Stat. §152.22, subd. 6.

Steps for Employers who employ (or interview) qualified Medical Cannabis Patients

  1. Know your rights

Just because medical marijuana use is receiving increased support, your ability to run your business in a safe and effective way is still possible.

One right every business owner should know is if an employee possessed or was impaired by medical cannabis on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment, you can address that with the employee on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, with the help of your attorney’s advice, termination may even be an option.

Also, the medical marijuana law does not mean you can’t ask for confirmation. An employer may request an employee to show the medical cannabis container where the medical cannabis was delivered to the patient. It helps to know how to identify if the product is being used under the restriction of the program. If questions arise regarding a person’s enrollment in the program, seek help, ask questions. The latest information can be obtained from the Minnesota Department of Health.

  1. Review your handbook

Start by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. Have you updated your drug testing policy in the last 2 years?
  2. Does it contain a policy allowing applicants or employees to explain a positive result on a drug test? If not, you need one. See Stat. § 181.952 Subd. 1(5).
  3. Does it say how your business plans to confirm employee enrollment in the Medical Cannabis Program if needed?
  4. Do you have a policy regarding possession and use of medical marijuana while on the job?

If your answer is no to any (or all) of these questions, seeking legal advice on drafting those policies and implementing them into your business can save you and your employees conflict in the future.

  1. Update your policies

What is the worse that could happen with outdated handbooks? Litigation or expensive settlements.

For instance, drug testing in Minnesota is currently governed by the Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (“DATWA”), which makes it against the law to terminate employees who test positive for the first time except for in limited situations. In addition, you cannot withdraw a job offer to a job applicant based on a positive result from an initial screening test, alone. Failure to follow any of these or the many other provisions of Minnesota’s marijuana related laws may subject you to severe financial penalties, not to mention the cost of working it out with the employee.

Part of running a business is maintaining your handbooks to set expectations and boundaries with your employees that are respectful, specific, and cutting edge. Goosmann Law Firm prides itself on being ahead of the curve in supporting businesses who are change makers in their industries.

Now that you are ready to get ahead of the curve to protect your business in a world where medical marijuana is quickly becoming the norm, find an attorney you trust and update your handbook, give us a call. We are happy to help!


[1] The defining difference between hemp and marijuana is their psychoactive component: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Hemp has 0.3% or less THC, meaning hemp-derived products don’t contain enough THC to create the “high” traditionally associated with marijuana. Whereas any product containing more than 0.3% THC is no longer considered hemp based and is regulated the same as marijuana.

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