Companies Can Fire Medical Marijuana Users

ONLINE UPDATE

InsideCounsel originally covered this case in the January 2008 issue.

To read the original story, click here.

An employee fired for his medicinal use of marijuana can't sue his employer for unlawful discrimination under California law, the California Supreme Court ruled Jan. 24.

In a 5-2 ruling, the state's top court upheld a lower court's decision that California resident Gary Ross can't sue his employer, Ragingwire Telecommunications Inc., for firing him after he failed a company-ordered drug test.

Ross, who has a medical marijuana card authorizing him to use the drug to treat a back injury sustained while serving in the Air Force, claimed his firing was both an act of disability-based discrimination and a wrongful firing in violation of public policy. A state trial court dismissed his case, and after an appellate court upheld that ruling, Ross appealed to the Supreme Court.

Ragingwire argued it rightfully fired Ross because all marijuana use is illegal under federal law, which does not recognize the medical marijuana laws in California and 11 other states.

The court ruled California's Compassionate Use Act of 1996 does not "require employers to accommodate marijuana."

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