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Legal Recreational Marijuana in Missouri Isn’t a Free Pass for Users

The State of Missouri voted “yes” on Amendment 3 on November 8, 2022.  Amendment 3 legalized recreational marijuana use effective December 8, 2022.  This new law has implications for both medical and recreational marijuana users, as well as employers.

What it Means for Medical Marijuana Users

The original passage of medical marijuana in Missouri did not include direct protections against adverse employment-related actions for medical marijuana users; however, Amendment 3 directly provides employment protections to those with medical marijuana cards in Missouri.  During the hiring, firing, or terms and conditions of employment, an employer may not discriminate against or penalize an applicant or employee who has a valid medical marijuana patient ID card for:

  • having a valid patient ID card; or
  • legally using lawful medical marijuana off-premises and outside work hours; or
  • testing positive for medical marijuana.

It is important to note that an employer cannot take action against an employee or potential employee for testing positive for medical marijuana.

There are two exceptions to this rule.  First, the new protections do not apply to employers who would otherwise lose a monetary or license-related benefit under federal law.  Second, these protections do not permit an applicant or employee with a valid patient ID card to use, possess, or be under the influence of medical marijuana while working on the employer’s premises or during work hours.

What it Means for All Marijuana Users

Employers may take disciplinary action against an employee whose lawful, off-duty use of marijuana:

  • affects that employee’s ability to perform job-related responsibilities; or
  • affects the safety of others; or
  • conflicts with a bona fide occupational qualification.

Employers are within their rights to ban marijuana from the workplace and prevent employees from possessing, using, or being under the influence of marijuana while working, whether it is for personal use or medical use. Additionally, employers will not face liability for refusing to hire an applicant or disciplining or discharging an employee for working or attempting to work while under the influence of marijuana.

It is important for employers to note the new expungement provision provided in Amendment 3.  It is legal for a job application to ask about the applicant’s criminal history; however, a provision of Amendment 3 expunges the criminal history records for certain marijuana-related offenses. This means that an employer’s application cannot require the applicant to acknowledge the existence of, or answer any questions about, the expunged record.

Wondering how the passage of Issue 3 in Missouri affects your business or employment? Are you curious if your record is eligible for expungement? The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP is happy to answer questions. Contact us online or give us a call at (479) 316-3760.