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Workers' Compensation

Federal: Federal Court Oks Firing for Use of Medical Marijuana

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a case of first impression in the District of New Mexico, a federal district court held that an employer was under no obligation to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana, even where the drug had been supplied to the employee under New Mexico’s Compassionate Use Act (“CUA”). Accordingly, where a newly hired employee was required to undergo a drug test before beginning his actual work and the test was positive for cannabis metabolites, the employer could terminate the employee on the basis of its drug-free policy. The former employee filed a civil action in state court claiming he had been terminated in violation of New Mexico’s Human Rights Act (“HRA”), which generally requires employers to make reasonable accommodation for “serious medical conditions.” The plaintiff alleged he had such a serious medical condition—HIV/AIDS—and that his physician had recommended the use of medical marijuana. The former employer removed the case to federal court and then filed a motion to dismiss. The federal court noted that the plaintiff had not been fired for having HIV/AIDS, but rather because he tested positive for cannabis metabolites. Using marijuana was not a manifestation of HIV/AIDS. Moreover, neither the CUA nor the HRA granted anyone a cause of action when fired for marijuana use. The court added that marijuana use was still prohibited under the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). The plaintiff had not sought state-law immunity for his marijuana use; he had sought to require the employer to accommodate his marijuana use—the very conduct the CSA proscribes.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Garcia v. Tractor Supply Co., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3494 (D. N.M., Jan. 7, 2016) [2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3494 (D. N.M., Jan. 7, 2016)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 94.06 [94.06]

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see http://www.workcompwriter.com/new-mexico-employer-need-not-accommodate-medical-marijuana-use/

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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