I have never been fired from a job before, but I’d imagine it sucks very badly. I have quit jobs in the past, but I’ve never been terminated. If I was terminated for being a horrible employee, then I think I would be more accepting. But if I was fired for something that was unfair, I would be very upset about it. For instance, if I was fired for using a medicine that is legal in the state that I worked in, I would be extremely upset.
Sadly, that’s becoming the case more and more for medical marijuana patients. I have heard of dozens of stories of people being fired for consuming medical marijuana outside of work, which is obviously unfair. The latest case I’ve heard of is in Rhode Island, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2006. But this case is different, in that it doesn’t name a specific employee. The ACLU of Rhode Island has filed a lawsuit challenging the fact that an employee can be fired for consuming legal medical marijuana outside of work hours. There have been similar challenges in the past, none of which have been favorable. Per International Business Times:
The ACLU’s effort in Rhode Island isn’t the first time a company has been sued for allegedly treating medical marijuana patients unfavorably. In 2010, Brandon Coats of Englewood, Colorado, filed a lawsuit against Dish Network, claiming he was wrongfully terminated after he tested positive for marijuana in a company drug test. Coats, who worked as a telephone operator, was a paraplegic who used pot to ease muscle spasms — a condition that he said would have prevented him from working in the first place. An appellate court sided with the employer in 2013, saying companies in the state could lawfully fire workers for failing drug tests.
Then there was the case of Walmart employee Joseph Casias of Michigan who, in 2009, was fired for testing positive for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana). Casias used marijuana to alleviate symptoms of his sinus cancer, Fortune reported. A court upheld his firing, despite medical marijuana being legal in Michigan.
I get asked all the time, ‘can I be fired for consuming medical marijuana?’ So far case law says that the answer is a clear ‘yes.’ I don’t like it, and wish it wasn’t that way, but I also don’t want to lie to people when their job and well being is on the line. With more and more states legalizing medical marijuana, and recreational marijuana for that matter, this is going to be a reoccurring issue. My day job frowns upon marijuana consumption of any kind, regardless of the fact that medical marijuana has been legal in Oregon since 1998, and recreational marijuana will be legal in less than two months. I can still be fired, and live in fear of that happening everyday of my life, which is no way for anyone to live.