Can You Lose Your Medical License over the Use of Legal Marijuana?

For years now, California has led the nation in legalizing and normalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana. Now, both forms of consumption are legally protected in California, for the most part. And the same holds true for many other states. 

However, in no place in the United States is marijuana legal at the federal level. As such, questions continue to arise as to the plant’s legality in certain contexts, such as in the context of medical licenses.

Medical licenses are a type of professional license that requires their holders to maintain high standards of care and to refrain from violating laws. When there is a conflict of laws, such as between state and federal marijuana laws, federal law typically trumps state law. 

However, the uniqueness of the marijuana situation in this country has led federal authorities to give the states tremendous leeway in the enforcement of marijuana laws and regulations.

Will Marijuana Consumption Lead to the Loss of a Medical License?

It could, but not simply because it is not legal federally. Since California has fully legalized marijuana and its consumption, Californians have the right to consume it, according to state guidelines. 

However, the Medical Board of California takes a deep interest in when licensed healthcare professionals consume marijuana. If a physician treats a patient while they are impaired by marijuana, then the physician or any other healthcare professional may have serious licensing problems. 

But in most cases, simple consumption outside of treating patients will not lead to the loss of a medical license or the need for a medical license defense. However, there are instances where a medical license might be suspended or sanctioned without being outright revoked. These situations include:

  • Out-of-control marijuana use that interferes with treating patients
  • Being arrested and/or convicted of DUI and marijuana
  • Marijuana arrest for large quantities or providing marijuana to children

In other words, committing marijuana crimes or failing to consume the plant in a responsible manner puts a professional’s medical license in jeopardy and may require a medical license defense. However, California-legal, adult-use, and responsible consumption are unlikely to cause a person to lose their medical license. 

Can Marijuana Consumption Lead to the Loss of Medical Employment?

The answer to this question is an absolute yes. And this loss of employment could ultimately form part of a more comprehensive record that leads to the loss of your medical license. 

Every healthcare professional who consumes marijuana should be aware that employers decide consumption policies and can fire you for failing a marijuana test or being arrested for possession or sales. 

It is important to never assume that legal marijuana in California means you have an unabridged right to consumption. It is also important to know that marijuana tests can detect THC metabolites for weeks after consumption and lead to a failed test.

S J Harris Law fights for healthcare and other professionals whose licenses are in jeopardy. We work hard to make sure our clients remain active members of the professions they have chosen. Marijuana law is an emerging field of law that gets more complex when it overlaps with the laws and regulations of professional licenses. 

Contact our office today to explore potential representation and medical license defense if you are dealing with a professional license issue.

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When dealing with these complex issues, you need legal representation that has a long track record of success in these types of cases. Scott Harris and the rest of our team at S J Harris Law will be ready to help you pursue any option available that allows you to keep your license and continue working, no matter what industry you are in.


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