State Law Implications

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana (See the list.).  In addition, some states, including Colorado, have made the purchasing, possessing, and using of marijuana legal under state law. However, the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) makes the use, possession, etc., of marijuana (and other Schedule I drugs) generally illegal. Under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, the federal CSA preempts conflicting state laws. And, importantly for camps, employers have the legal right to prohibit marijuana use by its employees both on AND off the job.

So what is a camp to do if a staff applicant or camper wants to bring and use their medical marijuana prescription at camp? The American Camp Association reached out to legal experts to offer advice to the camp community:

Top Tips for Camps

  1. Medical Marijuana is considered a "Schedule I" controlled substance under federal law.  As an employer, generally you can refuse to hire, terminate an employee, or refuse to allow a camper to attend who is currently using marijuana, whether for medical reasons or otherwise. (Read the full article addressing this issue.)
  2. If you are inclined to accommodate the use of medical marijuana on or off your premises by one of your staff, consider the consequences. Even if you choose to allow such use, consider that there is a well-documented body of research identifying that use of marijuana impairs an individual’s ability to function — and that impairment would logically extend to many traditional camp activities (for example, driving vehicles or running a zip line or challenge course) and the supervision of co-workers and campers. (Read the full article addressing this issue.)
  3. Confer with your legal counsel to understand your state’s medical marijuana laws, and state anti-discrimination, disability rights, or other laws, should you be confronted with prospective employees or campers — or existing employees — using or seeking to use medical marijuana.