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Employee rights: medical marijuana use

The question that is probably swirling around in many people’s heads (especially after this election) is can your employer punish you for the lawful use of marijuana on your personal time? The short answer is yes; your employer may fire you for smoking marijuana in your spare time, in your home. This post will go over your rights and their limitations regarding marijuana use.<

Medical marijuana use is legal in more than one-half the states. Furthermore, a handful of state now legalized recreational use of marijuana. In a few more years, it is likely that more states will legalize the use of marijuana. With legalization reaching a fever pitch it is natural for some people to think that they can engage in lawful activity and their employer cannot punish them for it.

Unfortunately, that is not true. There are very few laws that protect marijuana use from being used as grounds for termination. In fact, even in the states that prohibit employers from firing people for engaging in lawful activity outside of work, those protections do not apply. A seminal case decided in Colorado ruled that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. Therefore any state protections are invalid.

In short, your employer can fire you fail a drug test, even if you have a medical card and a legitimate medical reason for smoking marijuana. In the case mentioned above, the plaintiff was a gentleman who was a quadriplegic who needed marijuana to mitigate his pain and he still lost his case.

If you believe that your rights as an employee were violated, then you may want to contact a lawyer – you could have a valid employment claim. Keep in mind, just because your first claim isn’t valid, does not mean you or your co-workers have suffered other violations of your rights. Usually, once one claim is discovered, there are dozens of other violations. An attorney can go over your case and help you sift through the facts to unearth the actionable claims.

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