Can Employers Fire Employees for Legal Marijuana Use?

Can Employers Fire Employees for Legal Marijuana Use

Well over half the states in our country have legalized marijuana use for medicinal or recreational purposes. Most of those have only legalized medical marijuana use, but 10 states have legalized it for recreational use, and more are expected to do so. There is overwhelming support for legalizing marijuana use throughout the country.

Since marijuana use is legal in many places, most people think they will not face any consequences for using it. However, that’s not always true. In some cases, you can still be fired from your job for using marijuana in a state where it is legal to do so. Here’s what you need to know:

Medical Marijuana Use

legal to use marijuana for medical reasons in Arizona

It is legal to use marijuana for medical reasons in Arizona, though you have to have a prescription from a doctor. However, in many states, employees can still be fired for using marijuana for medical reasons if they take a drug test and it comes back positive for marijuana. Fortunately, Arizona is one of the few states that has additional protections for those using marijuana for medical reasons. You cannot be fired for using marijuana or testing positive for marijuana if you have been approved to use it for medical reasons.

Recreational Marijuana Use

Arizona has not legalized the use of recreational marijuana, though many people believe that it is just a matter of time until that changes. Many are now lobbying to pass a bill legalizing recreational use of the drug. However, if you do not have a medical prescription and are caught either using or possessing marijuana, you can be fired from your job and face legal consequences.

In other states where recreational marijuana use is legal, you can still be fired for using it or for testing positive for it. Employers are allowed to set their own rules for employment, even if the prohibited activity has been ruled legal in the state.

Federal Funding

Federal Funding

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, even if specific states have ruled it legal. Therefore, if an employer receives federal funding, they are likely to be more vigilant about keeping marijuana use out of its workforce. These employers are more likely to routinely test employees for drug use, and they are more likely to have strict policies against marijuana use.

Drug Testing

Most states allow employers to require that potential employees take a drug test before they are hired or begin work. Some states do not allow employers to randomly drug test their employees after they are hired, though. Arizona is one of the states that does allow for random drug testing, and employers do not have to announce their intention to do so or give employees any kind of warning.

That means that if you are working in Arizona and you use marijuana but do not have a prescription to do so, you are taking a huge gamble. Your employer could require you to take a drug test at any time, and if it is positive, you can be immediately fired.

Working Under the Influence

No state allows employees to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including legal recreational or medicinal marijuana. Therefore, if you enjoy marijuana legally, you better make sure you are doing it on your own time. If you get caught under the influence while you are at work or on call, you can be fired immediately.

Attitudes have shifted immensely toward marijuana use, but state laws have not caught up across the board. If you are using marijuana in Arizona, know that you are putting your job at risk – unless you have a prescription for medical use.


This content has been thoroughly reviewed by the reputable employment law attorneys in Arizona at Denton Peterson, P.C. As legal experts in this field of law, can protect your employment rights as well as your right to legally use medical marijuana.

Brad Denton is a top rated employment law lawyer in Arizona at Denton Peterson, P.C. Brad received his law degree with academic honors from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years of experience helping businesses and individuals in a variety of areas of law.