Reefer madness: employees may use medical marijuana yet be fired for doing so

By Katharine Liao

Despite 20 states allowing the use of medicinal marijuana and two more — Colorado and Washington — allowing recreational marijuana use, employers remain unaffected. Courts consistently find that employers may terminate employees who test positive for marijuana, regardless of whether such employees are using marijuana to treat a disability; whether they were not under the influence on company time; or whether they used or possessed marijuana on company premises.

In fact, state courts in Colorado, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Montana and California as well as the sixth and ninth circuits agree on two key points that allow employers the option of continuing zero-tolerance approaches to drugs. Specifically, those cases endorse two key propositions. First, employees may be disciplined or terminated for marijuana use, despite state statutes prohibiting discipline for engaging in lawful activity outside of work. Second, employers need not accommodate medical marijuana use as a disability-related condition…

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