Marijuana And Unemployment Benefits
November 20, 2017 Unemployment No Comments

Marijuana laws can significantly differ across state lines in the United States. For example:

  • Recreational marijuana use and possession is legal in Washington State, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.
  • 23 states plus the District of Columbia1 have legalized marijuana use for approved medical purposes.
  • Many states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, setting out fines and civil infractions instead of jail time and felony convictions.


Though the attitude toward marijuana use is relaxing in many areas, other state legislatures still have very strict marijuana laws in place. The way marijuana use can affect your unemployment law case can depend on the particular state in which you worked.

Companies can have policies against marijuana

Even in states that have legalized marijuana, companies can choose to put policies in place that prohibit employees from using marijuana during work-related activities. If an employee violates these policies and is terminated for being under the influence of marijuana at work, they may lose their right to receive unemployment benefits. However, an employee may still be eligible for benefits if the marijuana use took place outside of work.

In one case out of Illinois,2 an employee about to take a drug test admitted to his employer that he used marijuana a few weeks before while on vacation and was concerned about the results of his test. Despite a negative test result, the employer fired him due to his admission and he was denied unemployment benefits. However, when the court reviewed the agency’s denial, it reversed the decision and awarded him benefits. This was because he used the marijuana while on vacation and not at all in connection with any work-related activities. Similar results are especially common for individuals who lawfully use medical marijuana off duty.

Discuss your case with a national unemployment law attorney as soon as possible

If you are denied unemployment due to marijuana use outside of the workplace or for any other reason, you should always consult with an experienced unemployment attorney at the Law Offices of Kenneth P. Carp. Call 636-947-3600 for assistance today.



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