The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit last week in the D.C. Superior Court on behalf of Doretha Barber, a sanitation worker with the D.C. Department of Public Works, who claims that she was denied reasonable accommodation and placed on an indefinite leave of absence after disclosing that she is a medical marijuana card-holder under the District’s medical marijuana program.  Specifically, Ms. Barber alleges that she suffers from degenerative disc disease which causes her debilitating back pain and for which she was recently prescribed medical marijuana for off-duty use only.  When Ms. Barber requested a temporary transfer to a clerical position during the fall leaf raking season as an accommodation of her disability, she was purportedly denied the transfer, and after she disclosed that she possessed a medical marijuana card, she was allegedly placed on an unpaid leave of absence and told that she could not resume her duties as a sanitation worker until she successfully passed a drug test (which she would inevitably fail due to her medical marijuana use) because she was working in a “safety sensitive position.”
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A New Jersey appellate court recently concluded in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc. (reported in our blog here) that even though New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (the Act) did not “require … an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace,” it also did not “immunize an employer’s obligation already imposed elsewhere” — such as in discrimination statutes. On July 2, 2019, a few months after that decision, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill that amends the Act’s employment provisions to not only clear up previously unanswered questions but also to create additional compliance obligations for employers. The amended law takes effect immediately.
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Last month, a Hawaii federal district court judge denied an employer’s motion to dismiss an applicant’s claim for disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) where the employer merely assumed that an applicant who admitted to having a medical marijuana card was a current marijuana user and would fail a drug test.  
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Although New Mexico has had a medical marijuana law in place since 2007, it did not contain protections for job applicants and employees. However, all of that changed on April 4, 2019 when New Mexico Governor Grisham signed Senate Bill 406, which amends the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (the “Act”) to include changes that will impact New Mexico employers and their consideration and treatment of individuals using medical marijuana.
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The New Jersey Court of Appeals revived a funeral director’s medical marijuana discrimination suit in Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc., Case No. A-3072-17T3. There, the funeral director was involved in a workplace accident. The director told the hospital that he was authorized to use medical marijuana. The employer fired the funeral director. The funeral director’s supervisor told him it was because of his medical marijuana use but the employer stated that the director was fired because he failed to comply with the Company’s policy which required employees to inform their supervisor if they are taking medications that could alter their ability to perform their duties. The director argued that his termination was unlawful under the State’s discrimination law even though the medical marijuana act did not afford him protection.
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An Arizona federal district court judge entered judgment against Walmart Inc. for terminating the employment of a woman who had been prescribed medical marijuana because it had not established through expert evidence that the employee was impaired by marijuana at work despite high levels of marijuana in the results of her drug test.  Therefore, the

With just under four weeks until Election Day, the push to legalize medical marijuana in Utah continues to progress. After years of failed efforts in the state legislature, the issue is being presented directly to voters by way of Utah Proposition 2, the Medical Marijuana Initiative. If the referendum passes, it will legalize medical cannabis for individuals with qualifying conditions. Eligible conditions include autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and chronic pain where the patient is unable to use opiates, among several other ailments.
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On September 5, 2018, a federal district court in Connecticut granted summary judgment to a job applicant after an employer refused to hire her because she tested positive for marijuana in a pre-employment drug test. The decision, Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co., LLC, d/b/a Bride Brook Nursing & Rehab. Ctr., should serve as a reminder to employers operating in states with medical marijuana laws to evaluate their policies and practices concerning employee use of marijuana outside the workplace.
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