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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On June 25, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol), the first marijuana derived drug for use in the United States, to treat two rare forms of epilepsy. This decision for the FDA could have sweeping effects for the marijuana industry. While the FDA has previously approved drugs comprising synthetic (manufactured) cannabinoids, this is the first FDA approved drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana. Even with FDA approval, further action is required before Epidiolex can enter the market in the United States.


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Going in to this election, the possession and use of medical marijuana was illegal in Oklahoma. However, arguments against cannabis legalization have now gone up in smoke. The Oklahoma voters have spoken by enacting State Question (SQ) 788, which now makes it legal to grow, sell, and use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Under the law, adults with a medical marijuana license would be authorized to, among other things, possess up to three ounces of marijuana on their person, six flowering plants, seventy two ounces of edibles, and one ounce of concentrated marijuana derived from the plant. SQ 788 will go into effect 30 days from June 26, 2018.
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Can employers deny employment to people who use cannabis under a medical prescription authorized by state law? In more and more states, the answer is now “No.”

Changes in cannabis laws are creating a new haze for employers. What follows is a quick summary citing some (not all) states that now require employers to think twice before denying employment to individuals because they tested positive for the use of marijuana that they are ingesting for state-authorized medical reasons.
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A recently-filed lawsuit in the federal district court in Arizona alleges that an employee’s use of medical marijuana may be permissible under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  Although the employee faces an uphill battle, the case presents a challenge to the commonly-held view that the ADA does not support such a claim.

In Terry v. United Parcel Services, Inc., No. 2:17-cv-04972-PHX-DJB (D. Ariz., filed Dec. 29, 2017), a former UPS sales director alleges, among other things, that UPS terminated his employment in violation of the ADA and the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”).  Terry alleges that he was a medical marijuana card holder under the AMMA, and that, at the direction of his doctor, he used medical marijuana during non-work hours to treat his nearly constant and extreme hip pain.  He claims that he never possessed, used, or was impaired by marijuana, alcohol, or any other impairing substance while present on UPS’s premises or during working hours.  According to the complaint, in April 2017, UPS required Terry to report immediately for a drug and alcohol screening test, and was informed that the reason for the test was “observable behavior.”  At a meeting with UPS officials one week later, Terry claims that UPS terminated his employment due to his positive drug and alcohol screening results and violating the company’s drug and alcohol policy.  Terry claims that he responded by notifying UPS that he has a valid medical marijuana card under the AMMA and a valid prescription for Adderall that he took to treat his ADD.
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