Hospital has 'absolute right' to prevent drug use
Hospitals have an "absolute right" to prohibit drug use by employees, says David Scher, JD, principal with The Employment Law Group in Washington, DC. The legalization of easing of criminal statutes regarding marijuana does not preclude hospitals from forbidding the use of marijuana even when off duty, he says.
The key fact is that marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, Scher says. Colorado and other states might declare that their law enforcement agencies will not prosecute the use of marijuana, but it is still a federal crime, and that designation gives hospitals leeway to prohibit it even on an employee's free time, he says.
"It's kind of like the gay marriage issue, where there is no definitive answer until it's addressed at a federal level," Scher explains. "The federal law preempts the state law, so hospital employees cannot get away with it, even if they do it off duty."