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Can Employees Be Fired for Using Medical Marijuana?

By April 10, 2014No Comments

Will employees who suffer from debilitating conditions be forced to choose between receiving prescribed medical treatment and keeping their jobs?

wwa_MikeBennett & Belfort partner Michael L. Mason posed this question in a full-page opinion article in the March 31st issue of Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly.  Mr. Mason provided an in-depth discussion of the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Act as it relates to employment law in the Commonwealth.

There are several features of Massachusetts law which set it apart from statutes in other states. While other medical marijuana laws have been interpreted as making limited exceptions to criminal law, the Massachusetts law is more broad and provides that “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.”  In addition, employees who are terminated due to off-site use of a medication prescribed to treat their disability are protected under the Massachusetts anti-discrimination in employment statute.

Massachusetts law is also distinct in the extent to which it enforces privacy rights, limiting an employer’s right to test for off-site drug use. The Commonwealth’s privacy act can provide a mechanism for employees who have been terminated for use of medical marijuana to contest their termination in situations where off-site, private use of medical marijuana does not impact workplace safety.

Of course, there are still reasons why employers may be justified in terminating employees for using marijuana, but, overall, Mr. Mason finds that medical marijuana users have reason to be optimistic that they may not have to choose between receiving treatment and keeping their jobs – at least in Massachusetts.

Click here to read the full, pre-publication article: Can Employees Be Fired for Using Medical Marijuana

Find Attorney Mason’s article on the Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly Website at: