Washington Medical Marijuana Users Under Fire

June 16th, 2011

Medical marijuana users in Washington state are under fire…(somewhat) literally. Though Washington state law protects authorized medical marijuana users from prosecution, the court ruled today that a company is still legally allowed to fire an employee for medical marijuana use. This ruling comes via the case Jane Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Management, in which the accuser, Roe, argued that TeleTech wrongfully terminated her employment after she submitted a positive drug test.

Jane Roe uses medical marijuana, as authorized by her physician, to manage the symptoms associated with severe, chronic headaches. When TeleTech offered her a position provided she pass a background check and drug test, she informed the company of her medical marijuana use and offered to submit a copy of her doctor’s authorization. The company declined the authorization and terminated her employment upon receiving positive results for her initial drug test.

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that, while the Washington State Medical Use of Marijuan Act (MUMA) protects users from prosecution under state law, it can’t be used to support a civil lawsuit. Companies, therefore, have the right to follow federal guidelines for drug testing enforcement. This is particularly unwelcome news for medical marijuana users given Washington state’s stalled job growth (700 jobs were lost last month after a slight increase in April). With the state economy at a standstill, medical marijuana using job seekers may be faced with difficult decisions regarding treatment and potential employment.

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