UK Medical Cannabis In The Workplace.
Where you stand as an employer & an employee

Although medical cannabis has been legally available in the UK since 2018, there is still a lot of catching up to do. With police officers still making mistakes, and a large number of the public not being aware of these law changes. It's no surprise that many employers, and employees are finding themselves in sticky situations relating to medical cannabis in the workplace. 

As experts in the UK Medical Cannabis and CBD industry, we understand the complexities in and out, and are here to try and help bridge the gaps in understanding. 

Written by R.Bailey 
Published on March 27, 2024


  • The Most Important Things Relating To Medical Cannabis In The Workplace
  • Different types of Medical Cannabis treatment to expect in the workplace
  • Can you operate heavy machinery with a medical cannabis prescription in the UK?
  • Reasonable adjustments for medical cannabis in the workplace
  • Can I be fired for medical cannabis use?
  • Should I tell my employer if I begin using legal medical cannabis?
  • Unfair dismissal/ the disabilities act with regards to medical cannabis in the workplace
  • Medical Cannabis Facts & Studies
  • What do you need to know about medical cannabis in the UK as a HR department?
  • Corporate training on medical cannabis in the UK
  • Medical Cannabis in the workplace support services:
  • Medical Cannabis FAQ
  • Enquire about Medical Cannabis consultancy services

Things have come a long way in the UK and many employers/ HR departments are still completey unaware that legal medical cannabis flower is available to thousands of patients across the UK. As such it is to be expected to encounter employees who may need reasonable adjustments or assessments done to ensure safety and compliance. Furthermore as an employee it's important to be up to date with the law to ensure things run smoothly, and to avoid any mis steps that could cause liability issues around incorrect action.

The most important things relating to Medical Cannabis in the workplace.

The most important things relating to Medical Cannabis in the workplace. 

Medical Cannabis in the workplace is a complex issue, and it's important that both sides are informed and prepared to navigate things correctly and for everyones best interest. 

This is important for numerous reasons, primarily to avoid any undue stress/ pressure or uncertainty on the employee, and so that the employer handles things correctly and in a way that doesn't open up legal issues for the company. 

This page is here to help inform and educate both sides on the ins and outs of how the law works with regards to medical cannabis in the UK, and how to navigate it in the work place. 

If you would like any advice, or to bring me in as a consultant to help navigate these issues then you can contact me directly through the form at the bottom of this page. 

  • Safety: There's no getting around it, medical cannabis is an advanced treatment with some serious side effects. If new with a low tolerance, or mis managing dosages you can easily become impaired. As such it can raise a serious safety concern particularly for those driving or operating heavy machinary. However, that does not mean that those with medical cannabis prescriptions can't be safe in these job roles. It comes down to the individual, their condition and how they feel during their treatment. As such, this is an incredibly hard thing to navigate and will often require an assessment of some sort. This can create stress on the employee who may be put on temporary leave whilst awaiting results. So it's best as an employer to be prepared and understand best practices here. This will help keep things running efficiently and avoid any legal issues with regards to discrimination and handling of this new novel prescription. 
  • Legality: How do you become a legal cannabis patient? Furthermore how can you distinguish between illegal cannabis use and medical cannabis use on drug tests? 

    It's all very new and many of you reading this may even be surprised to hear that it's available let alone how far this industry is here in the UK. We regularly see responses from HR departments, police or others with regards to this legal medicine with grossly incorrect information such as 'Medical cannabis is only prescribed as an oil never as 'flower/ buds'. These kinds of statements may be well intended thinking they were correctly informed, but are outdated and wrong and create problems and stresses. Actions off the back of being ill informed can put both the employee and the employer in difficult situations and we want to help avoid that. 

    Ultimately everyone just wants to crack on and do their job safely, legally and get back to normal right? So being informed and prepared is essential. 

    We jump in and break down the ins and out below in a more detailed way to help. However I am available for consultations to go over the finer details should you need it, simply fill out the form at the bottom of the page. 
  • Fairness: It's important to not fall into the trap of discrimination due to a lack of understanding. 

    Long gone are the days of 'the devils lettuce' and 'skunk' fearmongering. The science is solidly in, and has been for a long time. When managed properly there are no more risks associated with cannabis vs the 'traditional' prescription alternatives, and in fact it comes with a much lower risk of addiction and other complications. 

    Patients being pescribed medical cannabis aren't 'stoned' any more than someone on strong opiate based painkillers for their surgery/ chronic condition, and when managed correctly will often be unimpaired and able to go about their day and responsibilities perfectly fine (Better in many cases as they're relieved from their symptoms). 

    So it's important to be careful about any prior subconcious prejudice you may have on the topic. If an employee has presented that they have a legal medical cannabis prescription, it means that they have been gone through a rigerous process and approved by a medical board for the approval of their prescription.

    Their clinic and Dr will be able to provide any supporting evidence of this for you, and resources such as ourselves are on hand to help navigate these issues in an impartial way simply offering up the facts as they are.

    Just because it's through a private clinic does not change the fact that it is legal and valid and should be treated no different than access to an asthma pump in terms of eligibility for employment as long as their condition/ the prescription doesn't impact their ability to do their job safely or effectively.  
Yaks Low res-13.jpg__PID:2a547803-ed65-424a-bff7-8436e0ec0610

Rowan Bailey

Having worked in the CBD and Medical Cannabis industry since 2018, I helped launch an international award winning dispensary and build our own custom built labs and range of products that are fully compliant within this legal landscape. Aside from working behind the scenes in the lab, i'm also the face of our educational talks and consultational services surrounding legalities and operating in this space.  

When it comes to the insanely complicated laws around CBD/ THC and medical cannabis in the workplace, i've not only got experience as a producer, but as a patient and employer. It's a crucial part of my job to keep my finger on the pulse of all that is new, as well to advocate for employees out there who are concerned about the laws and the way their work may handle their new prescription.

Need a Medical Cannabis in the workplace Consultation?

Different types of Medical Cannabis treatment to expect in the workplace

Medical cannabis is used in a wide variety of ways. We'll quickly outline some common methods of consumption below with an outline of average/ typical effect duration and consumption method.

1. Medical Cannabis Flower or 'FLOS' 

This is cannabis or 'weed' in a form as we all know it. The 'flower' or 'nugs' from the plant itself that have been dried and processed to be dry and safe from any mould/ microbes. This is prescribed to be used in a 'dry herb vaporiser' which gently heats the flower to precise temperatures that 'evaporates' the active ingredients whilst leaving behind nasties that come along with typical combustion. 

This produces a light 'vapour' similar to typical nicotine vapes, however is usually in much smaller volumes of 'vapour'. Although this does have the smell of cannabis, it's important to note that the smell quickly disipates, and does not hang around/ stick to things in anyway like smoking does. As such someone using one of these devices won't end up smelling excessively of it afterwards, and the smell can be managed very easily.

Duration: Depending on the device used, adminisering a dose this way can take between 3-15 minutes on average. Though may take longer including prep time and the type of device used. On set for relief is very efficient with this method and is often the prefered option due to being able to 'microdose' as and when you need it through the day rather than larger doses that can impair things more such as with oils/ edibles.  

2. Medical Cannabis THC/ CBD Oil 

These oils typically come in a 10ml -30ml bottle and are a very discrete method of using medical cannabis. Though the oil smells faintly of cannabis, it doesn't tend to smell itself in use. These are administered using a measured syringe and held under the tongue. Onset can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes and can last for up to 4-6 hours. 

Though this is a simple and efficient method of consumption, it isn't for everyone as some may find it too sedating in the day or not effective for their specific needs. Others may need to use an oil as an over all base line, then use a flower based medication with a dry herb vape to top up as and when they need it. So accomodations in work may be needed for both. 

3. Medical Cannabis THC Gummies/ Pastilles 

These work in the same exact way as the Oil, the only difference is no needing to measure things out and they taste great. They'll be in a consistent dosage per gummy and can take 40-90 minutes to take effect. 

Although not for everyone, they are a very popular option due to ease of use and consistency. These will typically be identificable by a THC warning printed on the gummy itself. 

We have reviewed these meaning you can see a visual reference for what some of these look like HERE

4. Medical Cannabis Carts 

These work like your typical vape pen. Theyre typically a small cylindrical cart containing the distilled extract from the plant. These are great for discrete and efficient use without having to grind and dose flower/ bud. 

These are very easy to use out and about, and although there is a smell, it quickly disipates and doesn't cling / hang around. 

UK Medical cannabis in the workplace
UK Medical cannabis in the workplace
medical cannabis flower in the workplace UK
The most important things relating to Medical Cannabis in the workplace.

Can you operate heavy machinery with a medical cannabis prescription in the UK?

This is a tough question and sadly not one I can answer directly as it's on a case by case basis. Everyone is different, as well as their treatment, let alone what the 'heavy machinary' they operate may be. 

The bottom line is it comes down to you and how your treatment is managed/ effects you. 

Due ot the duration of onet and different methods of consumption, you may be able to manage your prescription safely around your work hours if it impairs you. Alternatively not everyone is impaired when consuming medical cannabis, just in the same way not everyone is impaired whilst prescribed strong painkillers after the initial adjustment period. The important thing regardless is to be safe, and honest about how it effects you. 

It is likely a good idea to go through an assessment and work with HR to make sure everyone is covered, informed and on the ball. 

Everyone should want the same outcome, just to crack on with work as normal as long as it is safe to do so. 

Reasonable adjustments for medical cannabis in the workplace

It's probably not reasonable to expect to be able to vape at your desk if near others or the smell could be hard to remove/ innapropriate for the work area. However refusing to allow you to medicate at all at work could well be cause for a discrimination case. So what reasonable adjustments could be expected for medical cannabis? 

The bottom line is every situation is different, and as things are new adjustments are likely to be less than perfect at first. However these are some key points that have come up a lot that can make things easier as a starting point for discussion.

  • Odour in the workplace: It's really important to note that although the medical cannabis flower does have a smell to it, and that dry herb vaporisers produce a vapour that also smells. These are no where near as pungent, or stick around/ cling to things like smoking cannabis does. It's a very easy to manage odour.

    There's two sides to note here. As an employee this medication is private and you may not want to disclose this to your peers. So controlling the smell when preparing doses, or being provided a place to operate their dry herb vape can help protect this. From an employers perspective they may quite rightly be concerned about a smell that could distract other employees, customers or clients. 

    So there are reasonable adjustments that can be made to ensure everyone is covered. For example the medication can be prepared into doses ahead of time in what is called 'dosing capsules' as pictured here. This means the preperation and grinding of the exposed flower isn't performed on the go. This drastically reduces the odour in preparation as well as reduces the time needed to medicate. These can be carried in caddies and in the original compliant packaging to ensure reduced smell and full legal compliance. So no need to grind flower at your desk, or carry excess flower with you out and about. 
  • Where to medicate? 

    This can be tricky as not all workplaces have the same facilities/ space. So it will likely need to be dealt with on a case by case basis. 

    To break this down once a dry herb vaporiser is prepared it takes time to heat up, and then can take anywhere between 3 - 15 minutes to process all of the active ingredients safely. 

    Due to the fact that it produces vapour, many places will accomodate medical cannabis use by recommending that these devices are used in those dedicated smoking areas. For many this is a simple solution that is usually already in place in some shape or form for smokers and as long as the employee is happy then it's that simple. 

    However there are plenty of reasons why this wouldn't be a suitable accomodation. Access due to disability, comfort due to weather/ temperatures or exposure to second hand cigarette smoke whilst using medicine for your health are all just reasons to not want, or be able to use this solution. So often this is the bottle neck that can need a reasonable adjustment in place to accomodate. Examples of accomodations for this could be: 

    A dedicated room with window/ air filter. As mentioned before, though the process of using a dry herb vape produces an odour, this odour can be quickly and easily removed. It isn't like smoke which clings to things and can be hard to wash out. A simple window open is usually enough, but for a more efficient solution there are alot of air filters under £100 that will suffice. So a dedicated room that can ensure the employee is comfortable and has any access requirements for them would be an ideal situation. However this obviously isn't always possible as not many work places will have a spare room knocking about! 

    So this is where other alternatives can be explored on both sides. Perhaps a change in treatment for work hours to go from a dry herb to a faster and more efficient 'Cart' could minimise time outside for the employee. Or perhaps microdosing with THC Oil or Gummies to get through those hours until returning home. These solutions won't work for everyone, but the important thing is to have a starting point for discusion and to remember that both parties should want the optimal outcome for everyone to just get back to normal safely and comfortably. 

Can I be fired for medical cannabis use?

When you apply for a job you may well be asked what prescription medications you are on incase its relevant to your job safety, risks or ways they can be prepared to assist or any drug testing that may be carried out. Atypically this would be incase opiates are flagged on a test, or incase an occupational health assessment i needed to ensure safety operating within your role. 

Now assuming you've started your medical cannabis prescription after already being employed do you need to then disclose this after the fact? An argument can be made that you wouldn't always inform you employer about every new medication you're given as long as it doesn't impair you or your ability to do your job.

It goes without saying you should never put anyone at risk by not disclosing it if you are impaired in anyway. However, once adjusted to your dosage schedule and setup, most medical cannabis patients aren't 'impaired' when dosing despite the old assumption that you're stoned all the time. 

So whether or not you could lose your job simply comes down to your ability to continue to do said job whilst using your medication, or after making any reasonable adjustments to treatment type/ schedule during work hours.

It's important to remember that this is a very important process to understand for both parties involved, the employer and employee. As it is new and there is a lot to learn, HR reactions can sometimes be wrong initially and cause undue stress on the employee. We have seen cases of people being put on leave for extended periods of time 6+ months whilst its looked into causing undue amount of stress with uncertainty over job security. The reason they were prescribed this in the first place? Anxiety... 

So when it comes to whether you can be fired for medical cannabis in the work place, it comes down to the suitability of your role and whether or not you personally feel impaired by your treatment. You cannot be unfairly dismissed, and if you feel as though this is happening, it's worth looking into the disabilities act and discrimination. If you are legally prescribed this mediction you are entitled to use it with reasonable adjustmnts if neccasary as long as it poses no risk/ safety issue to you or others. 

Should I tell my employer if I begin using legal medical cannabis?

I can appreciate both sides of the arguement from the corporate stance of ensuring they're best prepared, insured and compliant, and therefore wanting to know as soon as an employee begins this relatively new treatment. However, if it isn't impairing your ability to do your job, or a safety risk at all, then I can also appreciate why you wouldn't want to disclose it unnecesarily, after all our health conditions should be private where ever possible.

Ultimately like a lot of this, it will come down to you, and your job role. Most medical cannabis comes with the warning about not operating heavy machinary if impaired. The if in that sentence is carrying the weight of the world on it's shoulders at the moment as this complex situation is explored.

Ultimately this will all become much easier as more and more case studies become available proving efficacy for safety, measuring any levels of impairment and other things to standards that fit into the jigsaw of british health and safety. However for now, it's like a lot of these topics, a case of working together if the time comes to be preapred and adapt to support everyone.

Medical Cannabis In The Workplace 

A comprehensive guide to the law surrounding medical cannabis in the UK and how to navigate remaining safe and compliant in the workplace. 

Unfair dismissal/ the disabilities act

I'm regularly getting enquiries and seeing the same things mirrored online with regards to patients being prevented from using their medication in work, or being dismissed due to it. 

This is usually due to the same wrong impressions of the law along the lines of 'If it isn't NHS it isn't lega/ if it's private it isn't legal'. This is flat out wrong, and employers need to appreciate this. The only just reason for dismissing someone from work due to their medication is if it's proven to prevent them from being able to do their job safely. This would typically be due to operating heavy machinary, or where reasonable adjustments cannot be made suitably to support the employee. 

Only today I have seen cases of people being told they cannot take their medication before coming into a retail job because it would be like coming into work on sleeping tablets. This level of ignorance isn't excusable anymore. This law changed in 2018, there has been 6 years to get up to date. 

Granted its only recently that the numbers of patients are so high that more and more employers are encountering it, but that's no excusing for boldly descriminating against someone whos doing the right thing by informing you. 

To be clear, no employer has any right to tell you when to take your medication that is between you and your Dr and your specific needs. They can discuss reasonable adjustments about your administer it, or the type of treatment you opt for during work hours IF that is suitable to your specific situation. Beyond that without a valid and proveable safety concern, there really is no justifiable reason for this not to be worked out like any other medication. 

Medical Cannabis Facts & Studies 

medical cannabis in the workplace UK Medical cannabis in the workplace what does it look like Medical cannabis flower in the workplace dry herb vaporiser
  • Medical cannabis is legally available in the UK both on the NHS and Privately. Though primarily it is sought through private clinics. Just because medical cannabis is sourced via private clinics does not mean it is any less legal than if it is prescribed via the NHS. This is a common myth we come across. 
  • Medical cannabis patients who manage their condition daily are often not impaired or 'stoned'. Like any strong opiate there is an adjustment period where the first few doses may hit quite strong and make you drowsy. This is why you work with a Dr to dial in your dosage to avoid being impaired by utilising it safely and accurately. For many after the first few days/ week their treatment no longer has this effect. In fact for many such as myself, it could be argued you're more impaired without the medication, or with an opiate alternative than with the simply relief and management with medical cannabis. 
  • 'Medical Cannabis is different than street weed'. - It isn't. You'll even see this on clinic websites, but the fact is cannabis is cannabis. Medical cannabis is different in the sense that it is very controlled and measured and has to pass vigerous safety and compliance standards. But ultimately the effects are the same, it just comes down to how it is used. With black market cannabis use you arent typically guided through a controlled dosage regime, so it's more sporadic and lead by personal tolerance. Where as with medical it is more controlled an dialled in to be consistent and safe of any nasties. 
  • 'Medical Cannabis is like showing up to work on sleeping tablets'. - I use this quote as something I have just read on my lunch break relating to someone illegally being denied use of their medication at a retail job that it posed no risk to. This is how regularly i'm seeing this in work and being asked for advice/ support. The boss in this instance could get the company in some serious hot water if they continue to discriminate against their employee based on the wrong information. Especially as the right information is readily available online. 

    Medical Cannabis can make you drowsy, or it can make you focused and in tune. There is a reason there are so many different strains prescribed, because they effect people differently. 

    Medical cannabis flower is often prescribed with two different strains for patients, one that helps them in the day whilst being more productive (Sativa) and a strain that helps with issues in the evening including sleep or great level of pain management (Indica).

    Anyone who assumes that just because youre using medical cannabis you must be stoned, tired, slow, relaxed or unable to focus are simply uninformed. Being uninformed is perfectly, but enforcing things without being in the loop isn't. 

    Many people are prescribed medical cannabis to help with ADHD/ ASD, and as such many will find that it helps keeps them focused, awake and engaged more so than without it. Personally i'm prescribed for chronic pain, and although in higher doses my regime can be sedating, my daytime regime keeps me more engaged and efficient in terms of productivity. As i'm not bearing through pain i don't feel as run down, or as tired and can sustain the same level of work efficiency as before my condition progressed. It's given me my quality of life back as a person/ parent and productivity back in my job role. Something that I would have lost otherwise. 

    So be careful, don't fall into the trap of stereotyping someone off of outdated propaganda. 
  • Recent medical cannabis studies and information in the UK -

What do you need to know about medical cannabis in the UK as a HR department?

how to verify legal medical cannabis prescription in the UK workplace

1. There are simple ways to verify the legality of an employees prescription!

This is universal and actually no different than any other controlled drug that is prescribed such as tramadol or various antidepressants. 

As a patient you are advised the following to verify your legal status: 

Carry your prescription in the original container with your prescription label attached. You also need a valid ID that matches the name on the label. This is the bare minimum that you need should you be stopped by police etc. 

Beyond this, a patient will have a digital copy of their prescription via their patient portal/ clinic, as well as a treatment letter that outlines their condition, and overall prescription/ dosage regime. This documentation should be easily accesible for an employee to present if needed.


2. It should be treated like any other medication in terms of access/ reasonable adjustment.

Yes it is a novel and unique new medicine that comes with an interesting odour at times. However it is no different than an asthma pump, 'traditional' pain killers or antidepressants in the workplace. 

Access in line with an employees needs will be required and reasonable adjustments to support this may be needed. 

The most important thing to do is to have an open dialogue about how / if it impairs them at all, and their means of administration (Vape/ Oil or tablets). With this information a discussion can then be had that is person centrered to explore how to allow both the work day and dosage regime to flow easy and efficiently as normal.  

Medical cannabis in the workplace stigma and HR advice

3. People with medical cannabis prescriptions aren't criminals. Be compasionate.

Medical cannabis isn't easily prescribed and not every is eligible. Not only do you have to have a pre screening prior to your initial consultaton, but even if the Dr thinks you should be approved, your case still has to be put through to a medical board who make the decision. 

Anyone who has got a prescription has a valid medical condition and needs for this medication. There is a lot of unjust stigma around cannabis, and unfortunately although a lot of patients are prescribed it as an alternative to addictive anti anxiety medications, it can come with it's own anxiety causing issues relating to this pre existing stigma. 

If youre in the HR side of things, being understanding and open to this process is vital and a learning experience for both parties involved. 

Corporate training on medical cannabis in the UK

The country has a lot of catching up to do relating medical cannabis and the ins and outs of the laws/ stigma. 

The thing is, it's one thing for someone on the street to make an ignorant remark, it's another when a misstep happens in a corporate environment. 

It's more important than ever to be up to date with the laws around medical cannabis, the treatment types, what to expect in terms of effects and case studies on safety/ impairment and more. 

I have been providing educational talks and training around CBD and medical cannabis since 2018 and it has been the back bone of our business. I can provide training days and presentations to get everyone up to speed with the medical cannabis landscape here in the UK. 

Feel free to drop an email at the bottom of this page for more information and to make a booking! 

Medical Cannabis in the workplace support services:

HR Training and consultancy services for medical cannabis in the UK

Medical Cannabis HR Consultation

This is no doubt an incredibly hard area to navigate with regards to juggling the law, compliance, insurance and much more. Furrthermore when trying to clarify specifics online there are so many contradictions when trying to infer specifics. 

I can help cut out the guessing and act as your middle man between compliance and implementation/ training. 

Whether you need a quick call to go over some specifics for clarity, or if you would like some in person training i've got you covered. 

I specialise in the specifics of how medical cannabis works on a practical level, the compliance and law from an employee and employers perspective as well as in depth knowledge on the fundamentals on cannabinoids and their legality in the UK in general. 

You can drop me an email using the form at the bottome of the page or directly at

Support as a medical cannabis patient in the workplace unfair dismissal

Support for medical cannabis employees

You may be feeling a little bit overwhelmed as something relating to your medical cannabis treatment has come up in work. You believe that what's being enforced/ actioned may not be right but don't feel confident enough with all of the conflicting info? 

If this describes your situation i'm only an email away. I'm always happy to help when I can to offer advice/ clarify any specifics. Should you want any more in depth support then i'd be happy to offer further options! Feel free to use the contact form at the bottom of this page! 

Medical Cannabis FAQ

Yaks Low res-18.jpg__PID:a768aea8-262a-4478-83ed-65d24a7ff784

Written by Rowan Bailey

CBD/ Medical cannabis expert. Usually found behind the scenes in our labs, or on the road giving educational talks. 

More related posts


Does CBD show up on drug tests and is it legal without a prescription? 

The green revolution is here

Breaking down the stoner stigma and looking at medical cannabis a natural alternatively to some pretty dangerous 'traditional' medictions is vital. There is no ignoring it, and many choose medical cannabis due to the lesser impact in terms of addiction or wear on their liver/ kidneys compared to other prevelant options. 

It's a valid and informed choice that is a no brainer for many. Unfortunately the education and information around it hasn't quite caught up, and as such many are still innocently bias against it by carrying outdated stigma. Being open to the facts and how this could improve things in the workplace for your employee can have a profoundly positive impacg on your workplace.

We're here and always happy to help answer any questions you may have.