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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 As a result of the test, your job offer is rescinded.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.

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field drug test, Hartford criminal defense attorneyAccording to statistics compiled by the federal government, more than 90 percent of all criminal defendant plead guilty to the charges against them—or some variation of such charges in a plea deal—instead of going to trial. In some cases, pleading guilty may be the better option, as the defendant knows that he or she committed the crime of which he or she has been accused and by pleading guilty, the impact to the defendant’s future may be lessened. In other situations, however, including many drug cases, a suspect may plead guilty because he or she was led to believe that the evidence against him or her is overwhelming, even if he or she is not actually guilty. The defendant may be convinced that he or she stands no chance at trial and a plea agreement may seem like the only option.

Field Drug Testing

One example of such potentially misleading evidence is the result of a field drug test. These tests are intended to use a chemical process to detect the presence of illicit substances and lead to thousands of arrests each year. To conduct a field drug analysis, a police officer will drop a sample of a seized substance into a pouch containing several chemicals, which are meant to change color to indicate that the substance is, in fact, an illegal drug. While many studies have supported the tests as accurate enough to establish probable cause for the officer to then make an arrest, a conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt—a standard that these $2 test kits may not be capable of meeting.

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