Can You Be Fired for Medical Marijuana Use?

Employees with disabilities are perhaps getting wrongfully terminated in many States


Updated on Author: Sergei Lemberg

Updated on Author: Sergei Lemberg

Because of the continued decriminalization of marijuana, the people of many states can now use the drug for both recreation and medicinal reasons. As a result of more and more states making the use of marijuana legal, many people ask if it’s legal to fire someone for medical marijuana use.

Is Being Terminated For Using Medical Marijuana considered Job Discrimination?

The argument tends to focus on the belief that disabled employees need marijuana to relieve chronic conditions and therefore have a right to use it. They argue that they’re protected by discrimination laws, laws that ensure employers provide “reasonable accommodations” for employees to perform their jobs. The types of conditions for a medical marijuana prescription are:

  • Chronic Seizures
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Nerve Pain
  • Side Effects of Cancer Treatment

Arguing for medical marijuana use for employees means arguing that any of these mentioned conditions constitutes a disability and as a result, exceptions to anti-drug policies must be made by employers. The argument would be that easing up on these cases would be a “reasonable accommodation” for the employee’s disability.

Marijuana’s stance as an illegal substance creates problems, however. The federal government still sees it as a drug with the potential for abuse. As a result, forcing employers to modify their anti-drug policy for an illegal substance becomes problematic, even if it is as an attempt at a “reasonable accommodation” for a disability.

A similar conclusion occurred in Michigan case against Walmart in 2012. The Sixth Circuit upheld the federal law that argued against using the federal discrimination laws to cover medical marijuana use. The verdict supported the notion that medical marijuana users do not have the same protections provided by the laws against religion and race-based discrimination. They also pointed out that while Michigan allows marijuana use, it doesn’t protect its use by private employees, only state and local governments.

Employers are also allowed to have a “zero tolerance policy” for drug use, even in states with legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes.

Will Court Cases Be Successful for These Employees?

Laws surrounding this change constantly. Add to that the reality that other cases, judges, and higher courts can make exceptions to the law or even overturn it entirely.

Be aware that each case depends on the jurisdiction that tries it. This means that a Colorado court could come to different conclusions than a Washington courtroom, even though it’s the same case.

The current result of each case depends on the situation. In the Sixth Circuit, the ruling covered public employees, not private ones, for medical marijuana laws. The State Supreme Court of California argued that the verdict did not include the California employment law. For a wrongful termination course to be successful, it has to explicitly relate to the process an employee must follow under the State’s marijuana laws.

Need Legal Counsel? Call Lemberg Law

If you’ve been released from your position due to a positive drug test as a result of medical marijuana use, then you need to speak with an attorney who has experience with wrongful termination cases. Please get in touch with the Lemberg Law legal team. Complete our form for a FREE case evaluation or call 475-277-2200 NOW. You may be entitled to compensation for damages, injuries, lost wages or employment due to wrongful termination regarding medical marijuana use.

Sergei Lemberg

About the Author:

Sergei Lemberg is an attorney focusing on consumer law, class actions related to automotive issues, and personal injury litigation. With nearly two decades of experience, his areas of practice include Lemon Law (vehicle defects), Debt Collection Harassment, TCPA (illegal robocalls and texts), Fair Credit Reporting Act, Overtime claims, Personal Injury cases, and Class Actions. He has consistently been recognized as the nation's "most active consumer attorney." In 2020, Mr. Lemberg represented Noah Duguid before the United States Supreme Court in the landmark case Duguid v. Facebook. He is also the author of "Defanging Debt Collectors," a guide that empowers consumers to fight back against debt collectors and prevail, as well as "Lemon Law 101: The Laws That Lemon Dealers Don't Want You to Know."

See more posts from Sergei Lemberg

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