Just because a state’s law allows something doesn’t mean it’s allowed entirely, for everyone, without regulation. We largely know this, right? Every law has caveats and loopholes and conditions, meant to cover as many specific situations as possible so no one is left out. When substances deemed dangerous are involved, those conditions become even stricter (even if we kind of know the substance in question isn’t really dangerous at all) and regulations heavier.

Of course, I’m talking about everyone’s favorite leaf — cannabis. Maryland just legalized its recreational use earlier this year, and we’re all still figuring out how to navigate this new legal world. Amendments and changes are both still in production and have already passed, new businesses are popping up around every corner, and yeah, so are new consequences both in and outside of the law.

In other words, just because weed is legal doesn’t mean you can’t still get in trouble for using it in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with the wrong amount, or in front of the wrong people.

Recreational weed may be legal but so is employee drug testing

This applies to teachers of the public school system specifically (but they are certainly not the only ones). As technically-government-employees, the districts that teachers work for are beholden to federal law more than state. Federally, weed is still very illegal. You may think this contradiction would cause something to cancel out and save your butt, but you would, unfortunately, be very wrong.

Like I said, teachers aren’t the only people who face job-related restrictions to their cannabis usage, and the state laws actually work with this instead of against it. For example, nothing in any of the new laws prohibits employers from drug testing employees. Some states, at the very least, have protections against discriminating for cannabis usage — but Maryland is not one of them. They can drug test you here, and they can fire you for what they find (yes, even with a medical card). It is all left up to the individual employers to decide their policies.

Think of the children (won’t someone PLEASE think of the children!)

Public schools make things especially hairy because of the obvious: kids. If kids are around, the smallest of infractions can become serious crimes. When it comes to controlled substances like marijuana (and alcohol — they’re in the same class, this time), even simply possessing some on your person without intent to use it can become a legal problem.

As a teacher, and therefore a child care provider, you are strictly forbidden from using or possessing anything weed- or booze-related around children. If you have something with you, it must be locked out of reach and unused during your shift or while you’re on the premises. You can’t consume, vape, smoke, lick, or do ANYTHING with it, and this means you sure as hell can’t be under the influence. At home, you still have the right to enjoy a couple joints, but that happy world must stop existing the second you get to school (note: THIS DOES NOT MEAN DRIVE STONED).

If you’re caught in school stoned, or distributing bud to your teacher friends, or puffing behind the bleachers, you’re not only breaking the rules of your employer — you’re breaking the law. Not all situations can land you in jail, but that little distributing nugget? Oh yeah, that can and it will, big time (but more on that later). This isn’t just about protecting kids from dealing with impaired adults who are meant to be in charge of them — it’s also about protecting kids from getting the idea to follow in their footsteps. Yes, weed is pretty great and fairly harmless…as long as you’re an adult and as long as your brain is fully developed. Otherwise, that development is possibly stunted, hurting judgment and rationality for a lifetime. We’re still learning, of course, but we know it’s more dangerous for a kid to use weed than an adult.

And boy, do kids love drugs. Over 4,000 in Maryland were suspended or expelled for using some sort of dangerous substance at school from 2021 to 2022. Sure, the first graders aren’t as likely to use as the high schoolers, but desensitization is the first step to curiosity.

If kids are around, you must put the joint down.

Medical exemption can’t save you this time

“Oh, but I have a medical card so I can totally get away with smoking a J while grading papers during recess, right?”


Listen to me. The laws are very clear on this one thing. Being a medical marijuana patient does NOT entitle you to smoke or be otherwise stoned in any way on school grounds. The existence of medical weed means Maryland gives you one saving grace: unless you’re the bus driver (who needs to never ever be stoned even more for obvious reasons), you’re not going to be RANDOMLY drug tested. You’ll be tested if you’re suspected of being stoned or in possession. So, while employers ARE allowed to fire you for testing positive, medical patients who just make sure they’re never medicating during school hours shouldn’t have to test in the first place. In the future, there will likely (hopefully) be more protections offered to medical patients, but it has been less than a year, folks. This stuff takes time.

The kids you teach are quite literally likelier to be able to get stoned at school than you are. Maryland DOES have provisions for students who rely on medical marijuana (although they’re not allowed to smoke or vape it) and how their caretakers can administer it on school grounds, but then again, kids aren’t the ones meant to be responsible and in charge.

Getting fired is one thing; prison is another

Remember how I said certain things on school grounds elevates it from a small mistake to a criminal charge? Now, remember that little tidbit about sharing weed at school with other teachers or selling to them? Yeah, those things go hand in hand.

Normal possession of marijuana is not a crime, for example. Even if you have more than the legal amount, you’re usually just facing a citation or, at most, a $250 fine. But on school property, and especially if you have a larger amount, you could be suspected of intending to sell it. If you actually do it or are simply suspected of intending to, you could still face the charges of a high-level drug trafficker — in other words, 20 years behind bars and several thousand in fines.

What if you didn’t have a lot, though? What if it was one joint, definitely meant for you only? Well, if your employer catches you, there are still a number of charges they could press. Child endangerment, for one. Public intoxication. If you had the misfortune of letting slip you enjoyed your J in the privacy of your car, you could even face DUI charges. A teacher in another state discovered drunk at school ended up losing her freedom AND her job for that reason. While your employer may opt to just fire you without making the authorities aware, this is never something you should rely on happening.

As a teacher, you are being scrutinized more than almost anyone else because you’re meant to be a protector, role model, and mentor to the kids in your charge. Take care of your reputation. Watch what you post online, if you use marijuana (or drink). Never go to work stoned, or get stoned there. No gifts or sales at school (or sales anywhere!).

If you do end up facing drug charges of any sort because of usage or possession at school here in Annapolis or Ellicott City, you need to get an attorney who knows how to represent such a situation. At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, I know how to make a defense work for you no matter how “at fault” you may be. Even a citation is a stain you can avoid on your public record, and even a kingpin charge can be argued down with the right professional on the case. Big or small, I can help all. Call me today or use my contact form to get started. I may not be able to get your job back, but I can help make sure you keep your freedom, and the sooner I get started, the better.

Just remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!