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Will the Government Know If I Get a Marijuana Card?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Even if you live in a state that legalized marijuana for recreational use, and even if you have a prescription for medical marijuana, and even if you were never high on the job and only used marijuana in your personal time, you can still get fired for using marijuana. And if Comcast is allowed to fire a quadriplegic telephone operator in Colorado who used medical marijuana on his own time to treat violent muscle spasms, those with careers in education and public service are understandably a bit nervous about getting their own prescriptions or marijuana cards.

So does getting a marijuana card put you on some government list? And will your employer find out?

Medical Privacy

For just obtaining a doctor's marijuana recommendation, joining a collective to obtain marijuana, or getting a marijuana ID card, there are a few layers of privacy protections:

  • Doctors: If you go to your primary physician or a clinic, doctors and medical personnel are required under both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and doctor-patient confidentiality rules to maintain the privacy of your medical records.
  • Marijuana Collectives: If you go to a collective or shop for marijuana or THC products and they ask for a driver's license or Social Security number, stores are required under most state law to protect that information.
  • State ID Cards: In states like California that allow you to obtain a state medical marijuana card, public employees are required to maintain the privacy of patient records.

So, in some sense, yes -- the government will know you have a medical marijuana card because you asked the government for one. But generally speaking, merely obtaining a medical marijuana recommendation or prescription should not alert the authorities, and your medical and personal information should remain private from both your employer and law enforcement.

Marijuana Publicly

That said, there are other ways your marijuana card could get on the government or your boss's radar. You'll probably want to avoid posting anything regarding your medical marijuana use to social media. And even though you may be allowed to possess marijuana for medical use, you can still get a DUI for drugged driving. Of course, your employer may be able to drug test you for work. And because marijuana is still prohibited by federal law, that may be enough to fire you.

Marijuana laws vary by state and are constantly changing. If you'd like more specific information on medical marijuana in your jurisdiction, you can contact an experienced drug crime attorney near you.

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