fired marijuana job
Medical Marijuana Policy

New Mexico Medical Marijuana Patient Suing Company That Fired Her

fired marijuana jobI get e-mails all the time from people that have been fired for failing a drug test for marijuana, asking what they can do to get their jobs back. People think that because they live in a state where medical marijuana and/or recreational marijuana is legal, that they can’t be fired for failing a drug test for marijuana. This scenario is currently playing out in New Mexico, where a woman is suing her former employer for firing her for failing a drug test. Per Businessweek:

A woman in New Mexico is suing a company she says fired her for failing a drug test, even though she had a state-issued medical marijuana card. The ex-employee, Donna Smith, says Presbyterian Health Services’ decision to terminate her violates the New Mexico Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with serious medical conditions.

Smith’s attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, argues it’s “absolute hypocrisy” to punish employees for outside-work use of doctor-advised marijuana, but not alcohol, Adderall, or antidepressants. Smith, a physician’s assistant, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 1997 after serving in the military.

Multiple people have tried to win lawsuits and/or get their jobs back after being fired for marijuana consumption. Unfortunately, all of them have lost in court. They usually lose because they are relying on state law, which is superseded by federal law when it comes to employment. Federal law didn’t always trump state employment laws, but due to patronage reforms in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, and discrimination reform in the mid/late 1900’s, there is quite a bit of case law that rules in favor of the federal government. I’m not confident that this case will be won, however, as I always say, just because the firing was technically legal, it doesn’t make it moral. No one should be fired for marijuana when zero impairment at work has ever been proven.

  • Sarijuana

    We hope this one sticks. People just need to keep challenging this discrimination. This is the second vet in NM with PTSD to get fired because of MMJ use, at least the second to hit the media. I’m sure there are more.

    • Jetdoc

      Yeah… sooner or later they’re going to understand how discriminatory their policies are! That’s SAD isn’t it?

  • mike1188

    I hope she wins. This would be good for every person out there including non marijuana users.

  • Cyndysub

    I’m glad she is suing, hit them in their pocket books that’s where they will feel it the most.

  • Jetdoc

    This won’t change UNTIL Congress changes the law. It’s AMAZING to me that it’s legal to use in that State, yet one can lose their job in a second DUE to its use. These Medical Marijuana laws as well as Legalization groups MUST start writing “job protection” into these laws! But the overreach of Govt authority that’s happened over the past 100 years has gotten us to where we are today. Our government has just ASSUMED powers not given it in the Constitution. Once they ASSUMED those roles the people were TOO FUCKING STUPID to SEE and UNDERSTAND what they’re doing.

    • Sarijuana

      I know people who worked on the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act in New Mexico. I wouldn’t be as harsh as to say they were stupid, but they admittedly didn’t know enough to cover all the bases, and are regretful about that. Change is happening, albeit not fast enough. We all must continue to educate anyone who wants to listen, because people who have no experience or bad experience in cannabis culture have no idea what we are up against. It’s not like the media covers it very well, or at all.

      The polls are in our favor, but honestly, most people in America don’t figure marijuana reform as a priority unless, or until, their lives are directly affected by it. I know we can all say the lives of every citizen are affected by prohibition, but people don’t realize it, so we all, as activists, have a real tough row to hoe.

      • Jetdoc

        Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to insult your friends or acquaintances. I guess you could say I was making a sensational blanket statement. Didn’t mean it personally, just figuratively!

        • Sarijuana

          No Problemo. I didn’t take it as an insult to them. I was just telling that some of the most well meaning folks can get it wrong. You are right that these fail safes need to be written in, in the future. I hope as new states write their rules this protection is included.