On May 23, 2017, in Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Co., a Rhode Island Superior Court issued a unique decision regarding employer obligations to medical marijuana users.  The Judge who penned the decision began his analysis by quoting a 1967 lyric from The Beatles’ song “With A Little Help From My Friends”: “I get high with a little help from my friends.”  In the 32-page opinion following this witty opening, the Court held that an employer’s refusal to hire an individual based on her medical marijuana use violated Rhode Island’s medical marijuana statute, and the employer’s conduct may have amounted to disability discrimination under the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act (“RICRA”).  Continue Reading Refusal to Hire Medical Pot Users Just Got Riskier–At Least In Rhode Island

Ohio Governor Kasich’s presidential campaign went up in smoke.  So did his opposition to marijuana legalization in the medical context when he recently signed into law Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Act (“OMMA”).  He went from unartfully quibbling with Stephen Colbert about marijuana’s “problem” despite seemingly not being harmed by his own admitted usee to making Ohio the 26th state to enact medical-marijuana legislation.  (To read more about the medical marijuana laws in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, please see our articles here and here).  But there is no smoke or fire in OMMA, both literally in the sense that smoking remains a banned form of consumption, and metaphorically for employers who wish to continue to treat marijuana as a banned substance in the workplace.

OMMA goes into effect in early September.  Under the law, individuals diagnosed with a “qualifying medical condition,” who have registered with the State Board of Pharmacy are permitted to use certain forms of medical marijuana for medicinal purposes.  As mentioned above, do not expect Harold and Kumar to have smoke billowing from their car at a White Castle drive-thru any time soon though, as OMMA explicitly prohibits smoking or other combustion of pot.  Rather, patients are only permitted to use oils, tinctures, plant materials, edibles, patches, or any other form approved by the State Board of Pharmacy, including vaporization. Continue Reading No Smoke or Fire in New Ohio Medical Marijuana Act

In the stoner-classic, “Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie,” Cheech Marin laments: “I’m gonna be late for work again. That’s the fifth time this week, and it’s only Tuesday, man.” While Cheech’s calculations remain a mystery, the prospect of employees coming to work while under the influence of marijuana presents a concerning picture for employers.  In an era where medical marijuana is legal in certain circumstances under the state laws of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut – and with Vermont on the verge of making marijuana entirely legal – it is critical for employers to educate themselves on their rights and obligations with regard to these laws. This article provides employers in the tristate area with practical guidance on the medical marijuana laws of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  Continue Reading Smoking Out the Tristate Area: Employer Concerns with Local Medical Marijuana Laws

With Pennsylvania joining in last month, nearly half the country has laws permitting state residents to use marijuana for medical purposes, and a handful even permit recreational use. California led the movement when it passed the so-called “Compassionate Use Act” in 1996. At present, use and distribution of marijuana remain federal offenses, although unenforced per current U.S. Department of Justice policy.

The increasing accessibility of marijuana over the years, as well as its acceptance into mainstream culture, have led to serious misconceptions regarding its permissibility in the workplace. We offer here a few reminders to help clear up this this sometimes “hazy” area of California law. Continue Reading A “Hotbox” Of Legal Issues: California’s Workplace Marijuana Laws

With 24 states and the District of Columbia currently having legalized medical and/or recreational use of marijuana, there are now tens of thousands of card-carrying marijuana users in the workforce. While these new marijuana legalization laws come as a welcome relief to those seeking to benefit from the drug’s therapeutic benefits, they also have the potential to create a legal hangover for employers who now have to navigate the array of new rights and obligations.

Join Seyfarth Shaw on April 20, 2016 in the D.C. office to discuss how these new legalization laws interact with existing federal employment laws such as the ADA and FMLA, as well as various state anti-discrimination and off-duty conduct laws.

To register, click here.