Yes, You Can Still Be Fired for Medicinal Marijuana Use
A school in Waterbury, Connecticut hired, then fired, a music teacher after she admitted to being a card carrying medicinal marijuana patient. Now that music teacher is suing, and the issue may come down to timing.
Welcome to Connecticut. You're Fired!
Abigail Peck was visiting Connecticut over the summer from Florida, and interviewed for a music teacher position at an elementary school. After being offered the job, before signing the contract, Peck admitted to being a legal medicinal marijuana user to treat her ulcerative colitis. She had a Florida medicinal marijuana card. The district told her that would be OK, but that she had to get a Connecticut medicinal marijuana card.
Everything seemed fine, until it wasn't. "When they sent me back for the drug screening, it tested positive for marijuana," said Peck. "Then they immediately contacted me and put me on administrative leave." About two weeks later, Peck was called into the district office. She thought it was to set her official start date, now that all the paperwork was in and she had a Connecticut-issued marijuana card. Instead, she learned that the district was rescinding their offer to her for testing positive for marijuana, and now Peck is suing for compensatory damages related to emotional distress and financial loss.
PUMA Protection Only for Connecticut Cardholders
According to the school district's attorney, "Peck did not have a Connecticut-issued medical marijuana card at the time of her hire, and so is not afforded protections under the 2012 Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA)." Peck did take, and fail, a drug test prior to receiving a Connecticut-issued medicinal marijuana card.
According to PUMA, "No employer may refuse to fire a person or may discharge, penalize or threaten an employee solely on the basis of such person's or employee's status as a qualifying patient." Clearly, if Peck had a Connecticut card at the time of her positive drug test, her offer could not have been rescinded. However, states do not need to recognize the medicinal marijuana cards of other states, and all forms of marijuana, other than hemp, are still considered a Class 1 narcotic under federal law. Another key fact to remember is that, due to federal laws, it is illegal to bring medicinal marijuana over state lines, regardless of if both states allow for medicinal marijuana. So consuming Florida medicinal marijuana in Connecticut is against federal law.
There are many times when state laws differ from one another, and federal laws differ from states. But medically-necessary prescriptions are not normally one of those times. Though it may make sense from a heath, safety, and welfare perspective that a doctor registered to prescribe medicine in one state can't prescribe it in another, it is hard to find a reason that medicine prescribed in one state can't be consumed in another. If that were the case for all medicines, there would surely be lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act. And, there would be a lot more children conceived on interstate vacations!
If you or someone you love has been injured or discriminated against for legal use of marijuana, contact a local personal injury attorney. Rights and remedies are quickly evolving in this field of law, and a lawyer can help you determine your best legal course of action.
- Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- FDA Approves Marijuana Drug, So Will This End Federal Pot Prohibition? (FindLaw Blotter)
- State v. Federal Showdown Over Marijuana Laws (FindLaw Blotter)
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