US doctors face penalties for cannabis use during their free time

Published Jan 6, 2020 10:00 a.m. ET
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The legalization of marijuana is still in its early stages in many states in the United States. Many US states are still desensitizing to the thought, much less the reality of having cannabis legalized. Despite the legal issues, Cannabis is more than welcome in some of the states in the US. Does this mean that everyone can purchase and use cannabis for recreational purposes?

That is far from the truth because many people are penalized and ostracized for using cannabis, though the frequency often depends on where you reside and what laws are in place.

Cannabis unwanted in workplaces

Many people are being disciplined in their work environment for smoking pot outside of their work time. Employers are not impressed with the thought of having their employees 'high'. That’s is the reason why they have a fear that revolves around the idea of having a stoner around. Employers fear that the use of cannabis by their employees may harm their customers and business.

Even if this is possible, not every user smoke pot because there are other ways to consume cannabis. Besides, consumption outside of working hours should not be reprimanded unless the employee’s work behaviour is affected by such use.

Doctors will have disciplinary actions

Every day employees are not the only ones targeted for their use of cannabis. Did you know that even doctors in the United States are likely to face penalties for the use of marijuana? Why is this though? Doctors are members of an esteemed profession and they should act accordingly. There is no doubt that this is one of the reasons doctors are disciplined for their consumption of cannabis.

In the United States, there are some doctors or medical professionals that receive disciplinary recourse for their consumption of cannabis outside of their working hours. Take, for instance, Yolanda Ng, who was about to be employed at the Heart Children's Hospital in Washington as a pediatric nephrologist.

She was reported to the state's health program and forced to attend a rehabilitation program when a urine sample results came back positive. The results from the test confirmed that she had been consuming cannabis. Ng stated that she had used cannabis tinctures to relieve menstrual cramps a few months before the urine test.

After being stigmatized and penalized by the suspension of her licence, she decided to leave her profession. This must-have caused her significant loss. For what exactly, a small amount of cannabis found in her system? Was her behaviour impaired as a result of her consumption of marijuana? A urine test cannot answer those troubling questions. Some doctors may even use CBD oil.


Is CBD oil legal?

CBD oil is legal in most states, but its legality does not mean that doctors are allowed to consume it. CBD is non-psychoactive but many products contain more than the requisite amount of THC. These products may not be tested, and many people purchase and use them, not knowing that it may show up on a drug test.

Ng is only one of the many cases where there have been reports of physicians that have been disciplined for using cannabis. Even though marijuana is a  decriminalized drug in many states, there is still no regulation regarding the use of cannabis in the medical field; This is one example of gaps in the law that leaves medical practitioners with little or no protection.

Requirements of the Medical Profession

Then again, how doctors are regulated may depend more on their workplace in most instances. If the law is unclear, then medical boards may have to decide what is acceptable in their profession. One such committee, the Medical Board of California, has given its initiative regarding doctors and cannabis consumption.

This board confirmed that there are no rules regarding cannabis, but medical doctors will only be reprimanded if cannabis consumption, like any other drug, impairs his or her practice. Moreover, the patient should not be put at any risk because the patient is the doctor’s top priority.

There may not be any laws regulating the use of cannabis by medical doctors, but that does not mean that doctors should be penalized for their use of marijuana in their free time unless it affects their practice.

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