Marijuana is legal in Virginia, but employer drug testing may not be lenient

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 4:21 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2022 at 4:22 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - In Virginia, people who are 21 and older are allowed to posses a small amount of recreational marijuana or cannabis.

“It is legal for people in public places to have marijuana, but it has to be in a small amount,” Amanda Rieman Johnson, NBC29′s legal analyst, said. “Less than one ounce.”

Regardless of the legalization of marijuana in the commonwealth, employers can still test future and current workers, and take action based on a positive test result.

“It depends on the employer, number one, and it also depends on what type of marijuana is in play,” the legal analyst said. “If, for example, you are being relied on in a context of emergency there might be a zero-tolerance policy.”

Consequences will vary, too: “There might be a warning. There might be an automatic termination. There might be a suspension where they might be put on pause, or might have to take unpaid leave,” Rieman Johnson said.

She says there is one exemption: Having a medical marijuana card.

“It’s illegal for an employer to discriminate, terminate, or discipline an employee if they have been prescribed marijuana by a practitioner for a medical purpose,” she said.

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