Using medical marijuana doesn’t constitute a disability requiring
reasonable accommodations, the Oregon Supreme Court decided earlier this month. In
Emerald Steel Fabricators v. Bureau of Labor Indus., the S.Ct. held in a 5-2 decision that the federal Controlled Substances
Act trumps the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. In other words, employers
are not required to make accommodations for those using medical marijuana
and they may fire workers who test positive for marijuana, even if they have a
medical marijuana card.
Under the ADA, employers are required to make an effort to reasonably accommodate
your disability. This may be something simple like changing your start
time or moving your workspace. If your employer fails to make the accommodation,
then you may be able to file a claim of discrimination under the ADA.
Here, the Oregon Supreme Court joined with the California and Washington
Supreme Courts in determining that medical marijuana usage is not a disability
requiring a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
This issue arose when a medical marijuana user who was working as a temporary
drill press operator was being considered for a permanent position. Because
the new position required drug testing, the employee told his supervisor
that he was a registered medical marijuana user and used marijuana several
times a day when off duty. Without discussion of alternatives, the employee
was fired a week later.
The employee then filed a complaint alleging
discrimination in violation of the anti-discrimination laws and the Medical Marijuana Act.
An administrative law judge found that the company failed to “reasonably
accommodate” the employee’s disability. The state court of
appeals affirmed, but the state Supreme Court determined that the Oregon
Medical Marijuana Act was not enforceable because it is an “obstacle
to the accomplishment” of the intent of the federal controlled substances
act – i.e. controlling illegal drug usage.
Georgia does not currently allow medical marijuana usage. However, many
situations do arise where an employer must make a reasonable effort to
accommodate your medical condition. If you have questions regarding when
an employer must make a reasonable accommodation, or any other question
regarding the ADA or other employment matter, please contact
The Buckley Law Firm, LLC, a Georgia employment law firm dedicated to protecting individual’s