Speaking with Your Employer About Medical Cannabis

Navigating medical treatment while holding down a job can feel overwhelming. You want to maintain your privacy but also keep your employer informed if health impacts your work. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk.

This dilemma gets amplified when your prescribed medication carries stigma—like medical cannabis. Do you disclose it to HR? What information do you need to share? Will it change how leaders see you?

I once faced this nerve-wracking professional crossroads when medical cannabis entered my life unexpectedly. If only someone had mapped out the landscape to make the whole situation less scary.

So let’s walk through this step-by-step…

Bringing up medical cannabis with your employer can be an intimidating conversation. While you aren’t required to disclose private medical information in most cases, being open can allow your employer to better support you. Understanding your rights and having a plan can make things easier.

You Are Protected From Discrimination

The Equality Act of 2010 protects employees from discrimination based on disability, including medical conditions and treatments. Your employer is required to make reasonable accommodations to support you.

So while it may be an awkward discussion, the law protects your rights. Know that you have done nothing wrong by following doctor recommended treatment.

Have a Conversation Plan

Like most difficult talks, planning ahead goes a long way. Consider questions like:

  • Who do you need to speak with? A supervisor? HR?
  • Do you want someone you trust there for moral support?
  • How much medical detail are you comfortable sharing? You aren’t required to disclose specifics.
  • What accommodations might you need? Working from home or flex hours for appointments?

It can help to write talking points to organize your thoughts and remember key items. Having documentation from your doctor can also add helpful context if your employer has questions.

Focus the Discussion on Work Impacts

While your health information is private, you understand your employer needs to ensure a safe environment. Provide relevant details on how treatment could impact your work:

  • Will you need periodic appointments or remote work flexibility?
  • Are there side effects like sleepiness or impaired coordination they should know about?
  • Could medication impact operating heavy machinery or driving for work?

If treatment doesn’t affect your work abilities, your medical specifics don’t need to be part of the conversation.

Be Upfront About Drug Testing

Since medical cannabis contains THC, you can test positive for weeks after treatment even if you aren’t impaired. If your workplace conducts testing, notify them upfront to avoid confusion.

Have your doctor’s documentation on hand since some employers prohibit any THC presence, even with a prescription. Knowing policies ahead of time allows proper planning.

This Is Your Health and Your Life

Speaking up about medical cannabis or any other treatment isn’t easy. And while rare, some employers still carry outdated assumptions.

But this is your health, wellness and livelihood on the line. You are taking physician-recommended steps to treat your medical condition and improve your quality of life. There is nothing to be ashamed about.

While it’s nerve-wracking, employees who are open about their health needs report much higher job satisfaction. And discrimination protections provide legal recourse if an employer is unwilling to accommodate you.

So take a deep breath and remember most leaders want to support their teams. Communicate your needs calmly and clearly. Everything is going to be alright.

Additional Resources

If you need assistance navigating this process, organizations like ACAS, Citizens Advice and Scope can provide guidance. They assist with employment questions, workplace rights education and discrimination issues.

You can also reference a FAQ written specifically about employer medical cannabis questions. It covers additional topics like treatment methods, laws, driving policies and more.

The most important thing, though, is being kind with yourself. This whole journey can be emotionally taxing. Reach out for support whenever you need it – you aren’t alone.

Prioritize self care, stand confidently in your truth and let your light shine bright. The rest will work itself out one step at a time. This is your health, your healing and your right. You’ve got this!

Photo: “Medical Cannabis” by Anthony Cunningham for Zoom Testing

Zoom Testing is a leading UK drug testing company and a supplier of Drug Test Kits.

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