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Even where legal, marijuana use can threaten medical licenses

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | blog, Medical Licensing

Like it or not, the legalization of marijuana is spreading. American society is increasingly comfortable with its citizens enjoying cannabis.

When it comes to medical professionals, though, the rules regarding marijuana use can be more restrictive. Even in areas where it remains legal, inhaling could lead to the revocation of one’s license.

State laws versus federal law

While marijuana is now legal in many states, it remains illegal under federal law. This discrepancy creates a confusing situation for those who practice medicine. State medical boards may follow state laws, but they also have to consider the federal stance on marijuana. This means that even if smoking weed is acceptable in the state where a doctor practices, using it could still potentially threaten their right to practice medicine.

Professional standards

Medical professionals must meet high expectations for general conduct and patient care. State medical boards may view the ingestion of substances like marijuana as a risk to these standards. The concern is that using marijuana could impair the ability to perform on-the-job duties and make critical decisions.

Drug testing policies

Many healthcare facilities impose strict drug testing policies on staff. These rules often do not distinguish between legal and illegal substances; instead, they focus on whether a substance could impair a doctor’s ability to provide safe and effective care. Testing positive for marijuana, even in parts of the country where partaking is not criminal, could lead to a license suspension or other disciplinary action.

While the legal landscape for marijuana use is changing, medical professionals must carefully consider the threat it poses to their careers. It is better to avoid trouble than to indulge and have to defend one’s actions before a board.