Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger Explains How Legalized Marijuana Affects Medical Professional’s Licenses

On November 6, 2018, Missouri legalized medical marijuana. Since then, medical professionals have contacted me to ask what the effect this legal change has on their licenses and whether they are allowed to use medical marijuana.  As of right now, the answers to those questions remain murky, but I can provide some general advice to help guide medical professionals avoid obvious pitfalls. For more specific questions, professionals should contact me directly.

If you are a medical professional in Kansas or Missouri facing an investigation into your conduct, call attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation. Medical marijuana is an emerging legal field, and you need the help of an experienced attorney to guide you through any inquiries into its use. Do not agree to speak with an investigator without an experienced attorney by your side. Your career, reputation, and livelihood are at risk, and the challenge facing you is one you cannot navigate alone.

Medical Marijuana Issues

Society holds medical professionals to a higher standard than those in other professions. This is due to several factors, including the trust the public places in the medical professional, the effect of federal drug laws, and the risk to the public involved in medical professionals’ work. Accordingly, just because your friend who is a banker, engineer, or attorney is now using medical marijuana does not mean that you will also be able to use it too.  Having a medical marijuana card is neither a “get out of jail free card” from your employer nor a license to be intoxicated, issues I will describe in depth below. While medical marijuana is a new issue here in Missouri, many of the problems it poses are analogous to those already in place for alcohol and other intoxicants.

Employer Rules May Be Stricter than State Law

While it may be legal in Missouri to use medical marijuana, that does not mean that your employer has to approve of its use. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency regulates hospitals and other medical centers, and marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Accordingly, marijuana use in a federally regulated work environment likely jeopardizes the medical center’s license to prescribe and dispense medicine. As a result, your employer may prohibit medical marijuana use. Accordingly, just having a medical marijuana card, even if you do not subsequently use marijuana, may jeopardize your employment as a medical professional.

Use May Still Violate Professional Standards

As I said above, alcohol has been legal for a very long time, but coming to work under the influence of alcohol or even with alcohol in your system may violate the standards of your profession.  The same sort of tension exists now that marijuana is legal for medical purposes in Missouri.  If you make a mistake at work, even one seemingly unrelated to your use of medical marijuana, you may be accused of being under the influence. Similarly, if you come to work smelling of marijuana you may be accused of a lack of professionalism; while it may be legal to use medical marijuana, its use may result in allegations that you are violating other professional standards. Again, this is similar to alcohol. Alcohol is legal, but if you come to work smelling of it, you should expect a professional licensure complaint.

Contact an Experienced Kansas and Missouri Licensing Attorney Now

You have worked too hard to attain your professional license to lose it because you failed to understand issues surrounding your medical marijuana use adequately.  An inquiry from a licensing board or employer regarding your medical marijuana use means that your livelihood as a medical professional is in jeopardy. Contacting an experienced licensing attorney immediately to help you through this process can mean the difference between getting back to helping your patients and losing your career forever.

Kansas and Missouri professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger is prepared to advocate for your best interests and defend you. Call Attorney Sanger at 785-979-4353 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney experienced dealing with licensing issues.