Massachusetts ruling opens door to discrimination suits over medical marijuana

July 18, 2017 0 COMMENTS

Hero Line marijuanaby Erica E. Flores

A new ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court should be a warning to employers in the state that refuse to tolerate medical marijuana use by employees with a disability.

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Minnesota employers need to be ready for medical marijuana by July 1

June 17, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Laurie Jirak

Distribution of medical marijuana in Minnesota is set to begin July 1, so employers need to understand their rights and responsibilities under the state’s new medical marijuana law.

Confusion may arise because employers are subject to both federal and state laws that may impose different standards or requirements on workplace medical marijuana policies. Although the state has a law allowing medical marijuana use, it isn’t permitted under federal law.

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Firing employee for off-duty marijuana use legal, says Colorado Supreme Court

June 15, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Emily Hobbs-Wright

In a nationally awaited decision, the Colorado Supreme Court has upheld an employer’s termination of an employee who tested positive for marijuana because of his off-duty, off-premises marijuana use.

The court issued a narrow decision on June 15 in Coats v. Dish Network, LLC. It turned on the fact that marijuana use remains illegal under federal law. Construing the term “lawful” to encompass activities that are permitted by both state and federal law, the court ruled that the employee’s off-duty marijuana use wasn’t a protected activity within the meaning of Colorado’s lawful activities statute because marijuana use remains unlawful under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

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Federal government eases stance on state marijuana laws

August 30, 2013 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement updating the federal marijuana enforcement policy means the federal government won’t sue to keep states from allowing controlled recreational use of marijuana, but the effect on employers isn’t yet clear.

The DOJ announced on August 29 that it was revising its policy because of state legislation in Colorado and Washington legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The announcement emphasized, however, that marijuana use remains unlawful under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and federal prosecutors will continue to enforce that law.

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Ruling supports firing pot smokers despite Colorado law

April 29, 2013 0 COMMENTS

The Colorado Court of Appeals has upheld an employee’s firing for off-duty marijuana use, despite medical and recreational use of the drug being allowed under state law.

A quadriplegic employee who used marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana amendment filed a lawsuit after he tested positive for drugs in violation of company policy and was fired. He claimed his employer violated the Colorado’s lawful off-duty activity statute, which prohibits termination for any “lawful activity” conducted off an employer’s premises during nonworking hours.

In its April 25th ruling, the appeals court held that the employee’s use of marijuana wasn’t lawful activity because “for an activity to be ‘lawful’ in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both state and federal law.” Since marijuana use is illegal under federal law, the employer didn’t violate the law in terminating the employee.

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New Washington marijuana law doesn’t require employers to change policies

December 03, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Javier F. Garcia

Washington’s new law concerning recreational marijuana use takes effect December 6, but it doesn’t require changes in employer policies.

Initiative 502 (I-502), approved in the November 6 election, is intended to make the production and sale of marijuana a regulated, state-licensed system similar to that for controlling hard alcohol. It means that adults over 21 no longer will be prosecuted under state law for possessing limited amounts of marijuana and using it in private.

Marijuana use remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, federal contractors and employers receiving federal funding will want to avoid policies that allow consumption of marijuana on the premises to prevent loss of funding and federal prosecution. Also, many employers have drug-free workplace policies and/or collective bargaining agreements that prohibit the use of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana in the workplace.

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Medical marijuana law takes effect in Connecticut Oct. 1

September 11, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Jonathan C. Sterling

As of October 1, Connecticut employers need to make sure they’re in compliance with the state’s new medical marijuana law.

Under the law, employers of one or more employees are prohibited from refusing to hire, discharging, penalizing, or threatening an employee solely on the basis of his status as a “qualifying patient” or “primary caregiver” under the medical marijuana law.

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South Dakota Voters Just Say No to Medical Marijuana

November 03, 2010 0 COMMENTS

By Jane Pfeifle

Though a similar measure was narrowly defeated in 2006, this year South Dakota resoundingly rejected Initiative 13, which called for the legalization of medical marijuana. As a result employers can breathe a sigh of relief because the measure raised numerous questions about how they might be called on to respond to employees who were registered users.

Under the proposal, an employer couldn’t refuse to hire someone who held a marijuana registration. Yet what was unclear under the initiative was how employees who were under the influence at work could be treated: read more…

Four Arizona Ballot Measures of Interest to Employers

November 01, 2010 0 COMMENTS

By Chris McFadden

As a reminder, tomorrow will be your opportunity to make a difference in Arizona by heading to the polls! Four measures on the ballot may be of particular interest to employers.

  • Proposition 113 (secret ballot): If passed, this measure would guarantee the right to vote by secret ballot in union representation elections.
  • Proposition 203 (medical marijuana): This measure aims to allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana. If passed, employers will need to review their drug-testing policies, consider Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation concerns, and analyze workplace safety implications.
  • Proposition 106 (health care): A yes vote would prohibit any rules that force state residents to participate in a health care program.
  • Proposition 107 (affirmative action): If passed, this measure would ban affirmative action programs in public employment and education.

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