Medical Marijuana and the Workplace

Jan 25, 2010 , , ,


“Can an employer punish someone for doing something that is constitutionally protected?”

That’s the question raised by a pair of articles in Colorado today that lay out the precarious work situation many medical marijuana patients find themselves in.

While the constitutional amendment that established medical marijuana in Colorado says that nothing “shall require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any work place,” the state also has a “Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute” that protects employees from being penalized for something they do outside of work that is legal. (Much of the problem arises from the fact that marijuana stays in people’s systems longer than other drugs, so even if patients aren’t using marijuana during work hours, they could still test positive.) Legal experts have disagreed as to which measure takes precedent.

Against this legal gray area, many medical marijuana patients—teachers, sports coaches, government employees, and nonprofit workers among them—have been faced with the very real prospect of losing their jobs, simply for taking a legitimate medicine that is legal under their own state law.

To add to the confusion, court decisions in other states, including California, have found that employers can fire workers who fail mandatory drug tests. If that same logic were applied in Colorado, any number of the estimated 30,000 medical marijuana patients in the state would have a real cause for concern.

“[The law has] been deciphered to mean that employers can fire a medical-marijuana patient for just about anything,” Brian Vicente, the executive director of Sensible Colorado, told the Denver Post. “Basically, it’s a form of legalized discrimination against sick people who choose to use medical marijuana.”


19 responses to “Medical Marijuana and the Workplace”

  1. I have been fired for failing a involuntary piss test, on a couple of occcasions. It is only fitting that a person cannot get fired for cannabis use. I was fired after a company decided to do mandatory drug testing. Fuck them! I totally believe that after an accident to drug test, not because some asshole wants to impose his will on the people. I will not ever work for piece of crap that drinks himself to death but will not allow me to use a safer medication that anyone can purchase legally. So fuck you if I seem a little pissed off but I still hold a grudge still after twenty years. I know there are a lot more like me but maybe some day no one will be fired for such petty shit. Oh and by the way I now qualify for med mj. but live in a non mj. state.

  2. If I’m drug tested at work and the test comes back positive for Vicodin in my system, my employer will come back to me and require that I provide a valid prescription. If I provide the prescription then my employer is not allowed to fire me. If I can’t provide a valid prescription then I can be fired. If someone holds a State-Issued Medical Marijuana Patient ID card, then the State should also afford them the right not to be fired for testing positive.

  3. DarthNole,
    You know that just makes too much sence. How do you expect someone to express thier prejudice, while maintaining thay thier hands are tied?
    Besides it is the insurance companies that offer lower premieums for companies that do perform random drug testing.

  4. there has to be language written in these laws that protect the “off duty” use of medical mj. i have used mj for 40+years and no i don`t like working with anyone stoned or drinking. having said that what anyone does on off time ,8hrs before work no one should be penalized-it`s just common sense.

  5. Amsterdam had a somewhat similar situation a while back. Only it was the police who partook that we’re being told to not use cannabis. They fought back and I do believe they won with the mantra, “what I do on my off time is my business.”

    What a lovely U.S.A. it would be if only their example was followed.
    And … what if a police officer qualifies for medical marijuana and wants to use it in America. Wouldn’t that be an interesting turn of events to follow?

  6. Everyone should be allowed to smoke cannabis, evryone should be allowed to carry a gun…maybe not at the same time….but we would be freer and nicer to one another.

  7. The reason that the insurance companies give lower rates for mandatory testing programs is one of the primary reasons that mj is still illegal: Positive test means they don’t have to pay the claim. They will never willingly give up that ace.

  8. don’t worry folks . you can drink yourself to oblivion, do meth, do heroin, do crack, whatever. You smoke a little pot.. forget about it! drug testing is pointless, it only tests for pot! ALL The harmful substances are gone from your system in a matter of days, but “marijuana” OMG this incredibly harmful substance that has killed no one stays in your system for a month!

  9. The tax money wasted on arresting, prosecuting, imprisoning, and the forced “treatment” of marijuana users costs the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars every year, billions that are therefore NOT available for schools, health care, repairing our roads and bridges, and a hundred other vitally important areas. Surely no one believes that imprisoning Americans for using a plant is a better use of our limited resources than educating our children, maintaining our infrastructure, and keeping our families safe from foreign terrorists?

    Let’s put the drug dealing criminals out of business and free up our tax dollars to meet America’s real needs. Let’s tax and regulate marijuana, and let’s let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards; maybe $100 a year for a permit to grow a dozen plants. It’s a win-win.

  10. This discussion needs to take place on a grander scale.

    qUESTION.
    Why does everyone want to tax everything?
    Let’s agree on a set tax on obviously neccessary devices.
    Say community needs taxes to support Gov. and citys etc.
    Tax our incomes and that’s it.
    Make weed legal and free anything else is a jOKe.
    Pot is Medicine but it is a natural remedy.
    As soon as it is legal the goons will ruin it.
    Geneticly altered pesticide weed umm yummy.

  11. It is very difficult to take the pills, vicodin in this case we are gaining control of our body, we must remain very careful and not fall and hang on to drugs, always remember to look at this couple and for our future. I read findrxonline certainly are very addictive and so we need to know control.

  12. What we need is an improved test for MJ. The current test checks for an enzyme produced by the body after injesting MJ. This test does not check if one is under the influence. Futher testing needs to be done on the enzyme and its therapeutic effect on the body and mind and at what level would constitute being under the influence.

  13. I agree that the issue is ‘under the influence’, not that it is still in someone’s system. This will become more important when driving under the influence will need to policed after mj is legalized for recreational use.

  14. Yesterday the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association organized a large rally outside the Battle Creek Walmart in support of Casias. We will continue to do what we can to support him. Unfortunately Casias wife is also employed at the same store. Pressure put on Wal-Mart has the potential to blow back on her. They have 2 elementary age children and hers is the only family income now. With his health history and our dismal economy, the chances of Joseph finding alternative meaningful employment is slim to nil. Wal-Mart has this family entirely at their mercy.

  15. The first time I heard of medical marijuana was years ago when my great aunt came for a visit, (from Seattle to Iowa). She had glaucoma and it lowered the pressure in her eyes. It has since been used for pain control in patients with serious medical conditions. Some which do not receive any relief from any other chemically produced substances. It is an outrage that people are not allowed to have pain control. As a patient advocate, I think Walmart should be sued for discrimination. They do not fire others who take a prescribed medication of any kind. How do we tolerate this kind of behavior? This is one instance where the laws need to be clearly written to protect the citizens. As for Walmart, they have a history of not treating employees well. This is one of the many acts of persecution against their employees. I think they intentionally do interviews to find the stupidest people that they can, and then put them in a management position. At the risk of sounding as if I have a personal vendetta against Walmart, I think the manager’s head should be put in a vice for the next five years. Then deny this person pain control. “An eye for an eye”. Walmart you are pathetic.

  16. I called the Battle Creek Walmart store saying I was doing some health insurance research about the firing, since I am a health insurance agent. When I was transferred to someone who would take my call, I was asked if I could hold for a couple minutes. When she returned, the only response to any of my questions was the Walmart spokesman’s quote in Mike Meno’s article.
    The local store workers cannot voice their own comments, which is not surprising.

  17. I’ve been there myself, as a medical patient in Washington state. Busted ass at my job, always showed up early and left late, I feel bad for the guy, and I’m wearing his shoes. It hurts worse than ever in the current job market, been fired about 2 months ago for the same thing, still looking. about all you can do in this case is go to a doctor and have them write a script for marinol and backdate it…. which is beyond sad, it really is. Keep being active, only way change will come, were in the right direction, but not to the finish line.

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