Medical Marijuana Users Raise Unexpected Issues for Employers

Online Exclusive: Medical Marijuana Laws Are Spreading Across the Country

For a decade, John Doe suffered from a debilitating medical condition involving panic attacks and severe nausea that left him unable to eat. After trying numerous prescription remedies, in 2002 Doe, who wasn't named in court documents, discovered that marijuana alleviated many of his symptoms. Doe told his doctor that marijuana helped, and his doctor issued him a card that identified him as a registered medical cannabis user under Oregon's Medical Marijuana Act, a 2001 statute that exempts registered users of marijuana from state criminal prosecutions for its possession. Doe began to smoke marijuana approximately three times a day.

"Even the most liberal states are coming down on the side of employers," says Richard Meneghello, a partner at Fisher & Phillips. "Currently there is no case that would require an employer to accept a medical marijuana card as a legitimate reason for a positive drug test."

But employers may still face liabilities.

Adele Nicholas

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