Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Medical Marijuana?

The voice on the phone dripped with angry self-righteousness.

"My boss fired me for using medical marijuana," he told me. "It’s illegal for him to do that."

The man went on like this for a few moments until I intervened.

I explained that the FDA recently ruled that there’s no medical use for marijuana. The Department of Transportation doesn't allow those in safety sensitive jobs to be under the influence of marijuana.

But the man on the other end of the phone had a difficult time comprehending. He was stuck with the idea that he was right. And that his former employer was wrong.

After I told him I’d be unable to evaluate and release him to return to his driving job while he was using marijuana he became angry and hung up.

This man's case illustrates a rising phenomenon in the recovery world. Some employees believe that because they have a prescription for so-called “medical marijuana” that they can drive and perform other safety sensitive jobs while under the influence. But that isn't the way it works.

After all, alcohol is legal. So are other prescription medications. But that still doesn't mean we can legally use them while operating a motor vehicle. Or performing other safety-sensitive jobs, such as repairing or maintaining aircraft or trains or work in any of the thousands of safety sensitive jobs.

Those of us who evaluate employees for return to duty have a mandate to protect the public.