I'm under the impression that in Pennsylvania, medical marijuana users are protected from employer discrimination:

No employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee regarding an employee's compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges solely on the basis of such employee's status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.

Section 2103(b)(1), Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, 2016.

How does this work in practice? Particularly, does it protect "green card" holders from a positive drug test during the hiring process? Is it correct that withdrawing a job offer based on a test positive for THC products would be illegal by this legislation? If so, to what extent do employers feel bound by this act (currently, in Pennsylvania); i.e. whether in knowing or unknowing defiance of this act, would a company be likely to feel comfortable withdrawing a job offer after a positive test?

Thank you.

  • 1
    I think you're reading to much out of this law. To me it's written to protect an employee from being discriminated against based only on their "status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana". It doesn't seem to me to address at all the actual use of marijuana - and as such an employed would still be free to take whatever disciplinary action they feel appropriate after a positive test. In short - they can't discriminate against you just for having a "green card", but they can discriminate against you for actually using it.
    – brhans
    Mar 27, 2022 at 1:08
  • @brhans This seems plausible but turns out to be incorrect, see the answer by user6726. Mar 27, 2022 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


It works by prohibiting discrimination based on use of medical marijuana, thus it limits employer actions w.r.t. hiring, firing, and on the job treatment. It is not an absolute prohibition. §2103(b)(3) states that

Nothing in this act shall require an employer to commit any act that would put the employer or any person acting on its behalf in violation of Federal law.

Since employers may be subject to federal drug-free workplace rules, detectable usage of medical marijuana is a fireable offense on such jobs, until the federal regulations are eliminated. The law is also clear that this does not create a right to be under the influence while on the job, and §510 lists definite prohibitions against actions while under the influence.

As for the question of whether the law prohibits discrimination based on simple possession of a card but does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of actual use (leaving aside the preceding disclaimers), this has been decided in Palmiter v. Commonwealth Health Systems, Inc. – it's not just card-possession that is protected. Indeed, the hospital in this lawsuit did not contest the claim that the law protects employees who use medical marijuana, the dispute was over whether a cause of private action was created (can a fired employee sue? "Yes", says the court). See also Hudnell v. Thomas Jefferson Univ. Hosps.

  • 1
    Thank you. I am quite a layman when it comes to law. If I understand the Palmiter case correctly, in layman's terms, the hospital argued that a private citizen does not have the right to sue to enforce the MMA section about termination, but the court ruled that private citizens do have that right. Is that correct? And I suppose all of that is separate from Palmiter's actual suit against the hospital, which is probably now in progress? Mar 27, 2022 at 18:27
  • @electronpusher Yes, your understanding of the case is correct. The hospital also questioned the right to bring a wrongful dismissal claim, not specifically under the MMA, and that right was also upheld. The statement of facts in the case seem to leave little beyond establishing the measure of damages for the lower court to do, and the case may well have been settled, I do not know. Mar 27, 2022 at 18:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .