State Supreme Court To Decide Whether Employees Can Be Fired for Using Medical Marijuana
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a case about the firing of an employee who uses marijuana under Proposition 215, the 1996 California law that legalized marijuana use with a doctor's recommendation, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Kravets, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 12/1). There is no deadline for the decision (Cooper, Sacramento Bee, 12/1).
The case involves a man who was terminated after eight days of working as a systems administrator at an information technology company because he tested positive for marijuana on a pre-employment physical (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1). The man maintains that the marijuana, which he uses to treat lower back strain and muscle spasms, does not affect his ability to perform the job.
A September ruling by the Court of Appeal in Sacramento upheld a lower court's ruling that Proposition 215 does not provide job protection for medical marijuana users.
In the Court of Appeal case, Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland wrote that there is "no safe method for an employer to determine whether a purported physician's recommendation that an employee use marijuana for medicinal purposes is legitimate." Scotland also cited worker productivity and other "legitimate interests" as reasons employers may not want to hire workers who use marijuana (Sacramento Bee, 12/1).
According to the decision, "An employer need not accommodate a disability by allowing an employee to use illegal drugs." The court noted that medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/1).
In related news, Riverside County on Thursday began issuing medical marijuana user identification cards, the Los Angeles Times reports. The county is the first in Southern California to comply with a state law intended to prevent the prosecution of medical marijuana users by local law enforcement.
The cards, which cost $100 each, contain a medical marijuana user's picture and a computer-generated ID number with embedded holographic patterns to prevent counterfeiting. However, the cards do not contain a patient's name, address or other medical information.
Estimates indicate that about 3,000 to 4,000 county residents could be eligible for the cards each year (Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, 12/1).