Employees who depend on marijuana may not be protected

As an employee who depends on medicinal marijuana to deal with chronic pain or other physical maladies, you may believe that your employer may be prohibited from terminating you based on your use alone, or because of a positive drug test. While being fired because of this may seem unfair, the law may not be in your favor.

After all, while you may believe that you are a disabled employee in the eyes of the law, and that an employer would be required to provide you with a reasonable accommodation based on your ailments, federal courts have held that disabled employees who use medically prescribed marijuana may not receive the same protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that other disabled employees enjoy. 

Essentially, marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. This groups marijuana with other illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. While federal prosecutors have changed the way they handle low-level marijuana possession cases, the treatment of a Schedule I drug still prohibits its protection under the ADA.

Nevertheless, a disabled employee who is terminated because of marijuana use may look to his or her individual circumstances for a potential defense. For instance, if there is not viable proof that the employee was under the influence of marijuana while at work or performing his or her duties, there may be a way to defend against the termination.

The preceding is not meant to be legal advice. Questions about one’s legal rights before or after a termination should be referred to an experienced attorney.

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