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Does a Medical Marijuana Card Show Up On a Background Check

Here’s a fact: 38 states have legalized marijuana as of April 2023. The slow legalization of marijuana has happened since California legalized medical marijuana in 1996. However, legalizing marijuana doesn’t negate that some businesses and entire industries may pass on a candidate who uses it, even legally. If you want to learn how medical marijuana and drug tests impact your job hunt, this brief article is a must-read. 

Here’s what you need to know.

Regulations Vary by State

Marijuana is considered a controlled substance at the federal level. However, how each state regulates marijuana varies regarding employment and criminality. For example, medical marijuana cards are only valid in Illinois if issued in Illinois. This means someone can’t use a medical marijuana card from any other state in Illinois. In comparison, many other states allow the purchase of medical marijuana regardless of where a patient’s card was issued. 

It’s also worth noting that there is a distinct difference between medical marijuana and recreational use. And employers will react differently to medical vs. recreational use. That said, specific industries have zero tolerance for marijuana use. For example, law enforcement and the medical field have a zero-tolerance policy because of the risk to the public.

Even without state or industry regulations, businesses can still opt to disqualify a candidate for medical marijuana use.

Medical Marijuana & Background Checks

Here’s the good news; medical marijuana cards won’t appear on a background check. Medical cards are considered protected information thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA. 

And do dispensary purchases appear on background checks? The answer is also no. Background checks won’t show your purchase history. However, certain background checks do show your credit score and history. Here are a few ways employers may learn about your marijuana use.

Arrest Records: Arrest records show the date and reason for the arrest. If you’ve been criminally punished for marijuana or other drug use, then a background check will reveal it. 

Social Media Check: It should be no surprise that employers, especially for front-facing roles, will review a candidate’s social media history. And if you’ve got a photo of yourself with marijuana, they will take note. On the bright side, if you’re applying for a dispensary job, the aforementioned social media profile may be in your favor. 

Volunteered Information: Simply put, telling the average employer about your marijuana use isn’t the best idea. And for various legal reasons, employers can’t directly ask about your drug use.

Medical Marijuana & Drug Tests: The most reliable way employers uncover marijuana use is through drug testing. Hence the connection between medical marijuana and drug tests. It’s also worth noting that there are multiple types of drug testing, including;

  • Urinalysis
  • Hair Test
  • Blood Test
  • Saliva Test


Each of these tests detects drug use for different periods. Hair, for example, holds onto proof of cannabis use for months. The most common drug test is urinalysis.

Do Dispensary Purchases Show Up On Background Checks

Dispensary purchases won’t show up on background checks. As mentioned, non-credit-related history isn’t relevant to an employer. And they can’t directly ask you if you visit dispensaries. If you use marijuana to treat a chronic illness, it’ll be in your favor to ensure you don’t smell like it during the interview process. 

Can Having a Medical Marijuana Card Affect Employment?

Having a medical marijuana card can affect your employment in a few ways. Here are a few examples.

Hiring: Federal and state regulations, business policies, and the job industry all play a role in whether or not an employer disqualifies you for drug use. One of the best decisions you can make is to apply for positions that either don’t drug test or specifically state that medical marijuana isn’t a disqualifying factor. 

Promotions: Certain businesses will hire you despite drug use but may count it against you during promotions, raises, and other career advancements. The negative stigma of marijuana use may play a role in this. 

Transfers: You’ll have to stay in a state that has legalized medical marijuana if you use it to manage a chronic condition. That means transfers to states like Wyoming, which at the time of this article has a zero tolerance for marijuana use, just isn’t possible.

Background Checks with KarmaCheck

KarmaCheck offers comprehensive background checks with fast results and reliable data. Did you know that improving the candidate interview experience betters your chances of finding the right hire? And one of the best ways to improve the candidate experience is shortening the time between a candidate’s application and the employer making final decisions. Fast background checks help speed up the process. Here are some other ways KarmaCheck can help.

Background Check Variety: KarmaCheck offers every type of background check. That means no matter which position you’re hiring for or which direction your business goes in, KarmaCheck can help. 

Compliance: Many industries have strict regulations as to when background checks are required. Pass your next audit by ensuring you’ve run the minimum background check requirement. 

Safe Space: Having an organization filled with employees who can pass background checks provides a safe, nurturing environment. Which, in turn, boosts productivity and business reputation. 

Partner with KarmaCheck to streamline your hiring process and gain new business resources. As a credible and trusted background check company, KarmaCheck continuously provides the data you need to build your workforce. Talk with us today to learn how we can benefit your company.


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