Federal Court Ruling Highlights Complexity of Medical Marijuana Issue

marijuana-medical-test-rulingImagine a scenario in which you are applying for a job. You pass the interview stage with flying colors, and the hiring manager is ready to bring you on immediately. The only thing you have left to do is pass a pre-employment drug screening. You are not worried because everything you currently take has been prescribed by a doctor who is licensed to practice in your state. When the screening results come back, however, they show that you have a particular drug in your system—one that you even told your prospective employer about beforehand. As a result of the test, your job offer is rescinded. Sounds pretty unfair, does it not? This is exactly what happened to a Connecticut woman in a situation that shows just how far we have left to go as our country tries to figure out exactly how to handle medical marijuana.

A Quick Background

In 2016, a woman was recruited and applied to work at a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Niantic, Connecticut. The woman’s interviews went well, and she was offered the position of Activities Manager pursuant to a pre-employment drug test. Prior to the screening, she informed the hiring manager that she was a registered patient under Connecticut’s Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA)—the state’s legal medical marijuana program. She had been in an accident in 2012 and was currently using a prescribed pill form of marijuana at night to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

As she expected, the drug screening did indicate the presence of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. What she did not expect, however, was the rescinding of her job offer. The nursing home decided they could not hire the woman because they used the federal list of legal drugs, and marijuana is not a legal prescription under federal law. The woman subsequently filed a lawsuit for employment discrimination under PUMA, which specifically prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an applicant’s status as a registered medical marijuana user.

The Court’s Decision

In early September, a federal court judge issued a judgment in favor of the woman. The judge determined that federal laws that promote drug-free workplaces do not preempt the anti-discrimination clause included in PUMA. In his ruling, the judge clarified that employers are entitled to keep the workplace itself drug-free but held that his case did not address medical marijuana in the workplace.

While the court’s ruling was sufficient to provide relief for this individual applicant, the underlying problem is much bigger. Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 drug according to federal law, which means that it is not recognized to have any medicinal uses and that it has a high potential for abuse—despite the fact that there has never been a recorded case of a fatal overdose of marijuana. Meanwhile, 32 states and the District of Columbia have created medical marijuana programs. With federal and state laws at odds in so many jurisdictions, it is nearly impossible for medical marijuana users to feel safe, even though they are following the laws of their state.

Contact Us for Help

If you are facing criminal charges related to marijuana or any other drug, contact an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney. Call 860-290-8690 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Woolf Law Firm, LLC today. We will help you review your options and assist you in making the best possible decisions moving forward.

 

Sources:

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=0532d84d-0bf2-46b5-b3c5-2738a69f213f

https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=9761608550061527496&q=Noffsinger+v.+SSC+Niantic+Operating+Co&hl=en&as_sdt=400006

http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/744636/food+drugs+law/ZeroTolerance+Policy+Didnt+Justify+Refusing+To+Hire+Medical+Marijuana+User+In+Connecticut

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