Firing somebody with a medical-marijuana prescription is illegal discrimination, court rules

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that voter approval of medicinal marijuana means employers can no longer simply fire workers who test positive for THC on a drug test if they can prove they were using the drug with a doctor's prescription.

The ruling comes in the case of a woman who was consuming marijuana two to three times a week to help ease the pain of Crohn's Disease and who tested positive for marijuana administered by her new employer, for which she handed out samples in supermarkets - and which she had informed about her usage.

Although Cristina Barbuto's direct supervisor at Advantage Sales and Marketing said he did not have an issue, she was fired after just one day on the job, by somebody in HR, who told her

ASM did not care if Barbuto used marijuana to treat her medical condition because "we follow federal law, not state law."

The state's highest court noted that the state law that went into effect after voters legalized medical marijuana in 2012 explicitly bans discrimination:

Any person meeting the requirements under this law shall not be penalized under Massachusetts law in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for such actions.

Barbuto, the court continues, qualifies as "handicapped" under state anti-discrimination laws because the disease is "a debilitating medical condition" causing a major issue in her life - she found it hard to eat and could not maintain a healthy weight. And she would be able to perform her job with a "reasonable accommodation" by her employer - letting her consume marijuana a couple of times a week in the evening.

As to the defendants' second argument, where a handicapped employee needs medication to alleviate or manage the medical condition that renders her handicapped, and the employer fires her because company policy prohibits the use of this medication, the law does not ignore the fact that the policy resulted in a person being denied employment because of her handicap. By the defendants' logic, a company that barred the use of insulin by its employees in accordance with a company policy would not be discriminating against diabetics because of their handicap, but would simply be implementing a company policy prohibiting the use of a medication.

ASM argued, however, that the "reasonable accommodation" she sought was not, in fact, reasonable, because marijuana possession is still a crime under federal law.

Sorry, the court ruled, this is where Massachusetts law takes precedence: Barbuto was doing something legal under Massachusetts law and she was not doing something that would put ASM at risk, because she was not toking up at work.

The act also makes clear that it does not require "any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of employment." ... This limitation implicitly recognizes that the off-site medical use of marijuana might be a permissible "accommodation," which is a term of art specific to the law of handicap discrimination. ...

The fact that the employee's possession of medical marijuana is in violation of Federal law does not make it per se unreasonable as an accommodation. The only person at risk of Federal criminal prosecution for her possession of medical marijuana is the employee. An employer would not be in joint possession of medical marijuana or aid and abet its possession simply by permitting an employee to continue his or her off-site use.

Nor are we convinced that, as a matter of public policy, we should declare such an accommodation to be per se unreasonable solely out of respect for the Federal law prohibiting the possession of marijuana even where lawfully prescribed by a physician. Since 1970 when Congress determined that marijuana was a Schedule I controlled substance that, in contrast with a Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substance, "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," nearly ninety per cent of the States have enacted laws regarding medical marijuana that reflect their determination that marijuana, where lawfully prescribed by a physician, has a currently accepted medical use in treatment. ... To declare an accommodation for medical marijuana to be per se unreasonable out of respect for Federal law would not be respectful of the recognition of Massachusetts voters, shared by the legislatures or voters in the vast majority of States, that marijuana has an accepted medical use for some patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions.

The justices then continued that even if it accepted the illegality argument, state law would still have required ASM to work with Barbuto to find an alternative treatment as effective as marijuana at curbing her symptoms - which, the court said, the company did not.

The court added that its ruling may not apply in all cases. Trucking companies, for example, might have a case that a driver's marijuana use could impair his job and safety.

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Comments

Big Data

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While one person might be the perfect candidate, on a whole candidates who use drugs are worse than those that don't.

So bad apple ruining the bunch, they test for and throw out that data set and focus only on non-government users.

HR departments, especially at large workplaces are little facists that only serve to protect their department and the company. They're never your friend, and they don't care about anyone outside.of executive Management.

That may be what 'they' say, but it's bs hiding behind jargon

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Setting aside the opinion that most HR depts are cisterns of corruption, the initial assertion is not supported by "Big Data". It is, in fact, just a nonsense statement.

What is meant here by 'drugs'? Illegal drugs? If so, illegal at what level - federal, state, municipal? How about prescription drugs? Does alcohol count? Caffeine? Sugar? If not, why not?

What is meant by 'use'? Actually in the act of administering? Currently experiencing physiological effects? Currently sober, but has 'used' within the last week? The last month?

There is no strong data or research showing that regular moderate marijuana use has a greater negative effect on workplace productivity than far more widely used substances like alcohol and tobacco.

Statements that imply the opposite are just expressions of personal or ideological bias, not business acumen.

Cisterns of corruption

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Setting aside the opinion that most HR depts are cisterns of corruption

This. ALL FUCKING DAY.

And to the rest of your post, too. HR departments can't tell you exactly what they're testing for. They can't tell you why they're testing for it. They can't tell you what they'll do if they find it, and they can't produce a justification for their action. But they do it, BECAUSE THEY CAN, because fucked-up US law permits it. I worked for a US company that got acquired by a Canadian company, and the new katamari ball immediately started piss testing -- in US locations, because Canadian law doesn't allow it. If that doesn't tell you something (several somethings, actually), it should.

My contempt for piss-test apologists is neck and neck with my contempt for HR departments.

Right you are

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Cisterns are perfectly fine. Cesspools not so much.

That silly discrepancy

Rears its head again. Our jurisdiction has a law which directly contradicts a law of the larger jurisdiction in which it's located.

This is good for lawyers and for clogging up overtaxed courtrooms and for precisely nothing else. We remain a net payer of federal funds. What has America done for us lately? I never understood JFK's quote. Of course I'm going to ask what my country can do for me, I'm the one paying it.

Also....

Funny how the very same people who spend a lot of time talking about the importance of states rights, and about leaving things up to the states instead of having the federal government call the shots, get so quiet when the federal government is trying to outlaw weed. Or weaken state consumer protections. Or outlaw abortion.

When is the court going to

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When is the court going to tell insurance companies that they can't have clauses excluding all claims related to marijuana use?

Landlords and employers are in a bind. They can't ban marijuana, but they're liable with no insurance coverage if anything goes wrong while someone is using it.

Anything goes wrong?

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Elaborate what could go wrong that doesn't already go massively wrong with legal alcohol?

Be sure that you consider how much more impairment of function results from even modest alcohol use.

Until we drop the drunk driving level to 0.02, y'all are hypocrites.

My point was not that

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My point was not that marijuana is inherently more dangerous than other substances, but that you can't insure it.

You can buy insurance that covers incidents where someone was drinking a glass of wine. But if someone is smoking a joint and trips and breaks their hip and sues you, you have no insurance coverage if your policy excludes marijuana-related incidents, as most or all policies do.

It's a legal inconsistency that puts people at risk. In my opinion if marijuana is a legally protected right, then insurance companies shouldn't be allowed to exclude coverage for it.

First of all, Thats not how

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First of all, Thats not how liability law works. Using your example, a determination would be made as to how much contributory negligencethere was, by the insured, or the claimant. If Bob falls down a flight of stairs, is it because he was stoned or because the homeowner left a skateboard at the top of the stairs?

Second, A urine test(especially for marijuana) does not indicate intoxication,Thre are strains of cannabinoids that dont get you high at all, nor is having canabinoids in your system, proof of diminished capacity. Similarly, if you have, say a pinched sciatic nerve, You can have a high level of opioids in your system and not be impaired.

The point is each case is different, and blanket immunity, even if written into a policy, isnt worth the ink that its written with.

I'm surprised by this

But if someone is smoking a joint and trips and breaks their hip and sues you, you have no insurance coverage if your policy excludes marijuana-related incidents, as most or all policies do.

I don't have my policy documents handy, but I'm astounded to hear this. Could you provide an example of such an exclusion from an actual policy?

I think he is talking about business insurance

If you own a place that allows, serves, or gives people alcohol, you get a liquor liability insurance that would cover injuries that happen when someone is under the influence (bars are responsible for patrons who drink there and then leave and drive somewhere else).

I'm guessing here, but I assume if someone is drinking and or smoking weed on your property and they fall, your homeowners insurance should cover them since weed and alcohol is legal to possess.

Does the legality of plaintiff's action really matter?

I'm guessing here, but I assume if someone is drinking and or smoking weed on your property and they fall, your homeowners insurance should cover them since weed and alcohol is legal to possess

I usually read policy documents, and I've certainly seen exclusions for illegal things that I, the insured, might do, but I've never seen an exclusion based on the legality of plaintiff's action.

If someone, tweaked out of his mind on meth, hops the fence into my yard, climbs a tree, and falls out of said tree while enjoying mexican goat porn, and then sues me for his broken neck, my liability insurance is still going to defend and indemnify me. Whether the guy was breaking 8 laws or so makes no difference.

I meant if they were allowed on your property....

I assume if you knowingly let (or negligently/recklessly) let under aged kids drink in a bar that you own, and that under aged person drives away and hurts someone, or fights someone in a drunken rage on your property, your insurance would not cover it.

I mean, does your home insurance cover you if you let under aged kids drink in your home, and one of them falls down your front stairs in a drunken rage, (assuming no defects in the stairs) and hurts himself?

It depends...

I'm rapidly getting out of my depth here, but central to the concept of liability insurance is that it covers situations in which you are at fault. There's a distinction between ordinary negligence (failed to shovel the walk; neighbor slips and falls), gross negligence (hand your neighbor's 10 year old kid the car keys and ask him to run to the store) and willful misconduct (wetting down your neighbor's driveway before a freeze with the intent to cause him to fall and break his neck) I don't know the different exclusions for the different standard policies, but my belief is that letting underage kids drink on your property and having one fall down the stairs, you'd be covered,

Liability insurance covers you for negligence

would be classified as negligence if one of them gets hurt.

Liability insurance covers you for claims arising out of you negligent acts or omissions.

Somebody gets hurt on your property for some reason and sues you for damages.

Either you were negligent in some way (you didn't maintain the property adequately; you failed to shovel the walk; you failed to correct a hazard; you left your skateboard on the stairway landing with a burned-out light; you allowed underage kids to drink on your property) or you were not negligent.

If you were not negligent, then the injured person has no claim. If you were negligent, there is a claim and the insurance company defends and indemnifies you.

Some insurance policies carve out exceptions for certain acts on your part; typically gross negligence or willful misconduct. Simply allowing minors to drink on your property is probably going to be considered ordinary negligence rather than gross negligence. Leaving the liquor out -- you're getting into grayer area. Leaving the liquor out and pointing out that you have left it out -- grayer still. Actually buying liquor and giving it to them -- now you're breaking the law and might be more clearly into the gross negligence territory. This is the kind of slippery-slope distinction that keeps courts busy and puts bread on lawyers' tables.

Liability insurance will not always cover injuries sustained...

as a result of criminal activity, that was what I was referring to with the weed initially (since it is not criminal to smoke)

As harmless as it usually is, allowing under aged kids to drink is a crime, and could easily be found to be gross negligence if something happens to someone because of the drinking.

Sure, there are different levels of this negligence. Did the parent know the drinking was going on, did they furnish the alcohol, did they make sure no one drove, did they take car keys, did they monitor the amount of alcohol being served, did they notify other parents, were they drinking themselves, how many kids where there to control, etc, etc.

Like you said, this is how courts and attorneys make money...

It depends upon whose criminal activity.

Liability insurance will not always cover injuries sustained as a result of criminal activity,

if you are the insured, then there is sometimes an exclusion for claims made by other people s a result of your criminal activity. Pick up a chair and break it over your guest's head; your liability insurance may balk at paying your guest's claim. But I have never heard of an exclusion for injuries sustained as a result of criminal activity on the part of third parties. If guest A picks up a chair and breaks it over guest B's head, and guest B sues you because you shouldn't have let guest A onto the property, I think your insurance company is still on the hook, irrespective of guest A's criminal act.

Yea, that's what I meant, the owner

It is a crime if the owner of a house (or person with control of the property is the legal term) furnishes alcohol to minors, or allows minors to consume alcohol on that property. Although the minors are also committing a crime, the owner is the one who would be negligent by allowing these criminal acts to happen on his property, and these criminal acts can easily lead to dangerous situations that can be life threatening (driving drunk, young kids stumbling around, etc).

I'm not sure what the original poster meant in terms of "weed liability" insurance. Sounds strange.

My condo master policy. It's

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My condo master policy. It's a commercial policy, and I'm pretty sure a landlord in a rental building would have the same clause with this insurance company.

I don't have it handy. But

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I don't have it handy. But you'd know if you had this clause. It basically says there's an exclusion for incidents related to marijuana use.

Trucking companies, for example, might have a case...

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Trucking companies, for example, might have a case that a driver's marijuana use could impair his job and safety.

How does this woman get to work, Uber? If she drives, what's the difference between getting killed by her personal car or a commercial truck? I found that part of the ruling absurd. That said, I favor legalization and heavy taxation on all drugs. The courts don't take it seriously and the only ones getting rich and/or murdered are the dealers while the users waste away. The War on Drugs is over. We lost.

You can't be serious.

How does this woman get to work, Uber? If she drives, what's the difference between getting killed by her personal car or a commercial truck? I found that part of the ruling absurd.

You can't seriously be claiming equivalence here. The difference is that someone killed by a commercial truck has a claim against the driver's employer, and therefore the employer has a legitimate interest in the employee's driving skills and condition, whereas someone killed by a personal car would not, in general, have a claim against the driver's employer.

By your logic, an employer ought to be able to fire you if you have building code violations in your house, because someone might get hurt.....

Forest through the trees?

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I couldn't care less about the liability of the truck companies, just the overall safety of the public. The equivalence is that whether you get killed by a Prius or a Peterbilt, you are equally dead. If the company knows she is driving into work under the influence of marijuana and she wipes out a family in the parking lot of the supermarket, I think there's a lawsuit there. Negligence, duty to care etc. Since the court specifically singled out drivers, the ruling seems to covertly suggest the company should be providing transportation for the woman as an accommodation for her handicap.

You're wrong

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As usual. What if a company doesn't test for drug use and an employee hits and kills a pedestrian? Any liability there? Of course not. The court didn't imply that at all.

Yea but....

If I go to that place (BJs comes to mind) and there are no free cheese samples the day that Ms. Cheese server got into an accident and was unable to perform free cheese serving duties, I will not be happy and yes, the store SHOULD be held liable.

Horrible decision all around.

why is it horrible?

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Does your employer fire you for smoking on your own time?

Drinking on your own time?

Please show the evidence that driving after small amounts of cannabis use - or a month after - has anything to do with anything?

There are companies that will

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There are companies that will not hire applicants whose urine tests positive for nicotine use

Massachusetts police officers or firefighters
Baylor Health Care System in Texas
Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio
Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA
Bon Secours Virginia Health System
Alaska Airlines
Union Pacific Railroad
Detroit Medical Center
Gulf Power in Florida
Georgia Power
Scotts Miracle-Gro
Weyco in Muchigan

SRC:
https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVII/Chapter41/Sect...
http://freakonomics.com/2013/04/17/help-wanted-no-smokers-need-apply-ful...
https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/story/2012-01-03...
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2012/11/25/more-employe...
https://www.pressreader.com/usa/usa-today-us-edition/20120130/2870154861...

...is nicotine prescribed by

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...is nicotine prescribed by a physician..?...do cigarettes kill you if you use them as intended..?

I don't know if...

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... if Nicorette gum is still requires a prescription but it did at one point.

That explains why I've never seen a police ...

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... officer smoking on the job.
Now if only they could be convinced to make the people smoking in public parks and in clearly marked non smoking areas by entrances and near air intake systems to put out their cigarettes and to fine those that toss their butts on the ground.

Yes my employer would fire me for smoking on my own time.

Mass General laws Ch 41. s. 101A

Subsequent to January first, nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, no person who smokes any tobacco product shall be eligible for appointment as a police officer or firefighter in a city or town and no person so appointed after said date shall continue in such office or position if such person thereafter smokes any tobacco products. The personnel administrator shall promulgate regulations for the implementation of this section.

I was joking about the cheese lady, I don't really care.

If you are so worried about accidents ...

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Maybe do your cop job and start writing more tickets.

Better yet, make employees take driving tests. The sober drivers around here are a bunch of idiots who could cause accidents with the cheese server. Sheesh.

Why don't you play that piano faster and faster AND FASTER AND FASTER Pete.

Free Cheese

Hmm ... depends on what kind of free cheese:

IMAGE(http://www.ebtorganic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/government-cheese.jpg)

Of course, your typical waste product would totally be down with free velveeta-like substance.

What if a company doesn't test for drug use...

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Um, in this case the company did test for drugs and apparently she failed. That's what the case was about. Medical marijuana is legal but operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs is not. If the company knows she is driving in their parking lot under the influence of marijuana, I see no difference in liability from a trucking companies that the court specified, other than the size of the vehicle.

You know that you probably

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pass dozens, if not close to a hundred people blasted out of their minds on prescription opiates every day on a commute right? That's ok though right? Opiates. The kind of drug where you nod off to sleep, that suppresses your breathing.
Oh but they're "your back pills" eh? The doctor prescribed them to you? OOOOOHHH ok then.
Contrary to the stereotype of the lazy stoner pot is actually a stimulant, and even casual or occasional smokers can pass a police issued driver's test after smoking (there are several local news reports on this from WA and CO after they passed recreational laws, incl. video of people driving a course stoned).
Somehow though the doc's prescription for a drug patented by big pharma and doled out like candy is fine, and when you fail a drug test for opiates your job can't fire you.
The REAL issue with opium proper and MJ is that you cannot patent a plant. If you could some companies would own said patents and we could all be as high as we wanted.

Really

If the company knows she is driving in their parking lot under the influence of marijuana, I see no difference in liability from a trucking companies that the court specified, other than the size of the vehicle.

With that statement, I find it very hard to believe that you passed the bar exam.

Show your homework, Fish

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Please cite some scientific studies demonstrating that medical weed use is a problem.

Not cop heresay - scientific evaluations of driver capability at varying doses.

Bear in mind that weed is detectable for over a month, and alcohol users are far more impaired at a legal level of dosage.

Then I guess

We must choose the latter. Top five ever Onion article: Drugs Now Legal if User is Employed

THC

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You are assuming she drives while under the influence. But THC stays in your system long after the "high" - or in her case, pain relief - goes away. Her urine will still test positive.

If she consumes regularly she will have a high % of THC in her urine. You are assuming she's an irresponsible person who gets behind the wheel stoned, but you don't know that. Maybe she uses it at night after work to help her sleep (where pain may keep her awake).

There are people who take allergy medicine that makes them drowsy and we assume they are responsible enough not to drive right after taking it. People are prescribed drugs all the time that have warnings about side effects with driving. Most reasonable people know the side effects and work around it.

Re: Means of transportation to work not relevant

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The means of transportation is very relevant if she's driving to work. That's why in my initial post I asked if she was taking Uber. If the company knows she is under the influence of marijuana and letting her drive to work, particularly in their parking lot and she hits somebody, I think a jury would find it very relevant. By mentioning that she must be accommodated but drivers could be fired, the court is tacitly suggesting the company provide this woman a ride to and from work.

It doesn't take Atty. Jim Sokolove or Dane M. Shulman to argue, "The company knowingly and willfully allowed their employee to regularly drive into work under the influence of marijuana where she wiped out this family. Despite millions in assets and knowing the risks, the company never provided a ride."

Former Democrat VP candidate John Edwards and other noted ambulance chasers will have a field day and a huge cut of the settlements.

Citations please

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"The company knowingly and willfully allowed their employee to regularly drive into work under the influence of marijuana where she wiped out this family.

When/where has this ever happened?

This in a state where your eighteenth OUI might get your license suspended.

Nope

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Again, unless driving was a part of her job duties, there's no way a jury would back up a lawyer using that as their case. Same thing with drinking. If I had a few drinks on the way in to work and plowed into a bunch of pedestrians on a sidewalk, my employer would not have any responsibility.

As for lawyers and the demon weed, I think both defense attorneys and civil litigators are going to have a field day on those who partake and drive until testing can be standardized so that someone who ingested marijuana a few days ago and those who are truly under the influence.

I'd like to see changes to testing

until testing can be standardized

I'd like to get away from testing for substances and toward testing for performance. If your vision, reaction time, attention focus, and coordination aren't up to the job, it doesn't matter to me if it's because your high, drunk, sleep-deprived, coming down with flu, or just had a huge fight with your spouse; you shouldn't be on the road.

Testing for alcohol is a classic case of the drunk looking for his lost wallet under the streetlamp because the light makes it easy to search, even though he lost it across the street: Alcohol tests are cheap, reasonably accurate, reasonably easy to administer, and they combine with the law to create a clear line: blood alcohol level .0799 is legal; .0801 is criminal. That numeric standard may or may not bear directly on safety.

"Letting her drive to work?????"

If the company knows she is under the influence of marijuana and letting her drive to work,

What does it mean for an employer to "let her drive to work?" On what planet does an employee need an employer's permission to drive to work, or an employer have any control over how the employee gets to work? (putting aside situations where driving is part of the actual job, which again brings up the distinction between a truck driver and a grocery store clerk.

Your legal argument makes no sense to me.

By your reasoning, anyone who

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By your reasoning, anyone who isn't qualified to drive would not be allowed to work. Too bad if you have bouts of dizziness, or you're blind, or you didn't feel like learning to drive -- what would happen if you drove to work and got in a car accident?

The new recreational law may do the same

I forget if it was the House or Senate version but one of the proposed revisions to the recreational marijuana law would prohibit employers from using a positive marijuana test as grounds for refusal to hire or disciplinary action.

A win for the little guy

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Marijuana use really is not that serious, especially for someone in the position she applied to. Ironically I've only ever been tested for remedial jobs, which essentially act as a barrier to employment.

Kevin?

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Kevin may be a total legal weed teen stonter, but he will never be drug tested for work since he's going to college.

The court's ruling makes perfect sense.

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The arrogant Know It All in HR just cost their employer a lot of time and money for no good reason. They were probably hungover or experiencing nicotine cravings and were therefore mentally impaired while on the job.

Apropos that you're named Lee

Bowie Kuhn: I want you to tell me about drug use in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Bill Lee: You're absolutely right. These guys are abusing caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, and you need to put a stop to it.

...and who tested positive

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...and who tested positive for marijuana administered by her new employer, for which she handed out samples in supermarkets - and ...

Definitely Monday morning.

First time I read through this, all I could think was "If her employer has her handing out marijuana samples in supermarkets, how can they complain if she uses the stuff in her private life?"

We need rigorous scientific

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We need rigorous scientific studies to prove more good than harm for all of these maladies that are being treated by marijuana. It should undergo the same type of scrutiny as any other new drug would at the FDA. After it has an actual indication then whether someone uses it "off-label" is between the prescribing physician and the patient. And then we can use the same regulations for it that apply to any other drug that can potentially impair work safety.

You missed the point. All

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You missed the point. All prescription drugs on the market have a specific indication that was sent to the FDA for initial approval. Drug X is used to treat Y successfully because it shows a reduction/improvement in Z. However if Drug X is subsequently used to treat condition A that is called off-label use. Currently marijuana is treated for all sorts of "off-label" usages but as with all drugs this should be through a process of peer-reviewed study.

So is alcohol

Medical weed should be legal because weed should be legal. You miss the point.

If you want to use weed as a

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If you want to use weed as a medication it should undergo the same FDA scrutiny as every other drug that's used to treat any medical condition. Alcohol may be legal but you're not going to use it to treat your diabetes.

Alternatively....

And then we can use the same regulations for it that apply to any other drug

Alternatively, we could regulate weed the same way we regulate potatoes, coffee, turmeric, poison ivy, or other plant substances.

[Aside: I don't smoke weed. I don't think it's particularly good for you. But then again, neither is eating cheesecake.]

.

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.

Which is worse?

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Secondhand weed or secondhand cheesecake?
I have no objections to anyone consuming marijuana where it doesn't harm others. Just don't smoke it near me or anyone I care about. It used to smell good but the stuff out there now is rank! And please! It's already hard enough breathing Boston air!

Well this ruling

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Solidifies the fact we should NEVER decriminalize all drugs. Based off this ruling it would be discriminatory to fire someone for smoking meth!

Read harder

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That's not what the ruling says. The ruling says that somebody taking a prescription drug for a problem that causes a handicap cannot be fired for taking that drug, at least not by a company that refuses to tries to help the worker find an alternative that works just as well.

Or maybe you can show me where in the Mass. General Laws that meth has been decriminalized (and, no, I'm not talking about Adderall).

Prescription Meth

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Actually, there is such a thing as legally prescribed meth. Federally legal, at that, hence why meth is Schedule 2 instead of Schedule 1 like marijuana. Brand name is Desoxyn. From my understanding, it's mostly used for cases of ADD/ADHD that won't respond to the front line stuff(Adderall, etc.). Presumably, an employer couldn't fire someone for failing a drug test for meth if they could show a legal Desoxyn prescription for a bona fide medical condition.
https://www.drugs.com/pro/desoxyn.html

Reasons to fire someone

Legitimate reasons to fire someone:

  1. They aren't doing a good job
  2. They're interfering with workplace morale
  3. You don't like them (employment-at-will)
  4. No reason given. You just don't want them working for you any more.

Illegitimate reasons to fire someone:

  1. Race, religion, other legally protected classes
  2. Disability, where a reasonable accommodation would allow them to do the job
  3. Retaliation for union organizing
  4. Retaliation for whistle-blowing
  5. Other specific reasons laid out in law

In this case, the court appears to have ruled that firing someone for using a drug taken legally to treat a medical condition violates #2.

Question for all you lawyers

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Question for all you lawyers out there, if you don't mind answering a question for the common good. I am a construction company who has an employee who operates heavy machinery around other coworker at the construction site. Said employee all of a sudden obtains a medical marijuana prescription from his doctor. Said employee one day makes dangerous almost life threatening mistakes while operating the heavy machinery around others while impaired on THC. What do I do?

I'm not a lawyer, but I'll answer anyhow.

If the mistake is bad enough, you completely ignore the drugs and you fire him for demonstrating that he doesn't have the necessary skills or judgment to do his job in a safe and effective manner.

If the mistake isn't that bad, and he's otherwise a good employee, you completely ignore the drugs, give him a written warning, and ask him what he plans to do to reduce the likelihood of such an incident recurring. If you don't like the answer, you fire him.

I'm not a lawyer, but I'll answer anyhow.

If the mistake is bad enough, you completely ignore the drugs and you fire him for demonstrating that he doesn't have the necessary skills or judgment to do his job in a safe and effective manner.

If the mistake isn't that bad, and he's otherwise a good employee, you completely ignore the drugs, give him a written warning, and ask him what he plans to do to reduce the likelihood of such an incident recurring. If you don't like the answer, you fire him.

A bit off topic

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I wonder how much nicotine and THC from secondhand smoke will show on blood tests?