Medical Marijuana Discrimination Cases on the Rise

As legalization continues to gain traction in the United States, the frequency of medical marijuana (mmj) discrimination cases popping up throughout the business world is beginning to accelerate. What’s more: the decisions in these cases could establish the standard by which applicant rights are favored over employer rights with regards to accommodating prescribed cannabis use.

In the past three months alone, courts in Rhode IslandMassachusetts, and Connecticut have all come to similar conclusions in cases against employers who denied employment to candidates who have doctor-prescribed mmj cards. These adverse hiring decisions were made after the applicants could not pass their pre employment drug screen. Some of these people were still denied even after they let their prospective employers know ahead of time about their legally-prescribed need to consume cannabis to treat existing medical conditions.

From the employers’ perspective, their decision was based on the fact that marijuana continues to be federally classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance (same as heroin, ecstasy, LSD, etc.). Despite this classification, limited protections for card-carrying mmj users won out in each of these cases. Combined with OSHA’s post-accident drug testing regulations implemented last year, we could very well be seeing the first stages of an upcoming overhaul in hiring law with regards to employee drug screening policies. Ultimately, these cases have the potential to set very specific legal precedents for non-intoxicated mmj users that may reshape employment regulations in the coming years.