Having said that, judges accusing a claimant of a federal crime is the worst case scenario. Most judges accept that marijuana usage is legal in some states and legal for medical usage in others. But remember, most judges are older and each one has a different view of marijuana. This is a situation where you really want a local attorney who is familiar with the judges and can tell you how a particular judge treats marijuana cases.
There is also a big difference between using marijuana for medical reasons and for recreation. If you have medical marijuana for a legitimate medical problem you are much better off getting the prescription from your pain management doctor or other regular treating physician. Getting a prescription from a doctor that only writes prescriptions for medical marijuana suggests that you might be using it more for recreation than a legitimate medical purpose.
But what if you are using it for recreational purposes? In some states it is legal (although not in Arizona - we only allow medical marijuana right now). Social Security has very specific rules about drugs and alcohol - they need evidence showing that you would be disabled without the drug and/or alcohol. This is usually shown through sobriety. I am well aware that there are lots of debates about how harmful marijuana actually is, but it is a controversial mood altering substance. Marijuana is therefore in the same category as alcohol and tobacco - legal, but concerning from a health view point. Alcohol is legal, but if you drink a bottle of vodka a day it will be difficult to get disability. The best thing to do is to not use marijuana while you are applying for disability benefits and it will not be an issue.
It's not that every judge is going to deny you if you smoke marijuana. This is a sensitive subject and you do not want to do anything to lessen your chances of getting disability. If you have a history of substance abuse then smoking marijuana, even if legal, does not help your case. In this case, as in any case involving mood-altering substances, you need to answer Social Security's questions honestly. Tell them exactly when you last used any substance and how often. If you lie then any other testimony is also suspect.
There are some cases that are going to be hurt more than others by using marijuana. If you have breathing problems and are smoking marijuana daily, that will be a problem just like smoking will be a problem. If you have a mental illness with hallucinations, marijuana may not be a great choice for you. Your marijuana usage may be for valid medical reasons, but be sure to have research to back it up.
Again, this is a situation where you really do want a local attorney who is familiar with the local judges to advise you. Judges are going to vary on this issue just like everyone else. If you want to play it absolutely safe on this issue, don't use marijuana. I would also tell you not to smoke or drink alcohol. Don't take any medicine that is not prescribed for you. Follow your doctor's instructions to the letter. Do not stop taking any medications without asking your doctor first. It is already difficult enough to get disability. Do not make it any harder.
If you have any more questions, please contact The Foster Law Firm at (480)621-7231 or check out Social Security Disability Guide for Beginners now available at Amazon.com.