Marijuana may be legal, but a positive drug test can still crush job offers

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 2:58 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Last November, Missouri voters approved recreational use of marijuana for people over the age of 21. But, as one Belton woman found out, legalization has its limits. A positive THC test can still throw a wrench into your job hunt.

Melissa Rush was offered two part-time jobs, but then the offer was rescinded.

She was honest about her use of CBD oil in her interview; she knew it would show up on her test. She uses CBD oil three times a day for treatment of a traumatic brain injury and pain.

“It was a last resort for me,” said Rush. “If I stopped taking it, I bet in three days I would just be a bear. I would not be fun to be around because nobody’s fun to be around when they’re in pain.”

Her problems started years ago, after a fall from a zip line.

“I still have seven broken bones . . . in my neck and five of my lumbar spine,” said Rush.

Rush told KCTV5 the CBD oil has been a game changer. She didn’t want to stop to pass a drug test, and she wasn’t going to cheat to pass the test. She thought honesty was the best policy.

Rush has a medical marijuana card. Her doctor knows about Rush’s use of CBD and approves of it. He even sent a letter to her prospective employer on her behalf. He wrote: “Mrs. Rush has a history of traumatic brain injury. CBD helps with her symptoms. Please take this into consideration as needed.”

Rush applied for positions within the HCA Midwest Health system (the same system her physician is a part of) and received offers for two part-time jobs. She even got a “Welcome to the team!” email. But, she just had to finish the preemployment steps. One of the steps included a drug test. As expected, she tested positive for THC.

She got more communications via text from a human resources representative: “Wanted to touch base that we have a meeting with legal on Thursday. I will reach out Friday morning.”

Friday came and then another text message: “Good morning. Because THC isn’t legal nationally, and because of the nature of patient care, at this time, HCA facilities are still not hiring candidates with positive tests. These are ongoing discussions and if that changes in the near future I will reach out.”

Rush says she understands there’s a difference between state law and hospital policy. HCA has hospitals in 21 states across the country — states where marijuana use is still illegal. Still, she questions the wisdom of the decision in her case.

“I was totally ready to work,” said Rush. “It was really disheartening not to be able to start, especially because of something that’s helped me heal so much. Just because you have THC in your system doesn’t mean you’re going to work high.”

She said she called KCTV5 in hopes of raising awareness of the issue.

“I really do think that that people who eliminate candidates because of THC, they could be missing out on some of the best candidates that they have,” said Rush.

HCA provided this statement to KCTV5:

KCTV5 also reached out to other hospital systems in our area. Those that responded echoed similar statements that they follow state and federal laws.