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New Laws May Protect Medical Marijuana Patients in New Jersey

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The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (NJCUMMA) became law on January 18, 2010. The law currently says that it does not mandate that employers allow a qualified patient to use medical marijuana in the workplace. However, there may be some changes soon. As is the case with many other states, the New Jersey Legislature recently presented two bills that are intended to provide protections in the workplace for patients who use medical marijuana in New Jersey.

The first bill is Assembly Bill 2482, which was introduced on February 4, 2016. This bill would modify the NJCUMMA and forbid employers from implementing injurious employment action against an employee on the basis of either the employee’s status as a registry identification cardholder or the employee’s positive drug test for marijuana.

An exception applies where the employer can prove that the legal use of marijuana adversely affected the employee’s ability to carry out his or her duties. In addition, if an employer or job applicant were to test positive for marijuana, each bill would mandate that the employer give the employee or job applicant a chance to provide a medical reason for the positive test result. The employee or job applicant should also be given written notice of their right to give an explanation.

While the NJCUMMA does not presently offer any employment-related safeguards to users of medical marijuana, there are two New Jersey federal cases concerning claims for wrongful discharge on the basis of the plaintiff-employee’s use of medical marijuana. In Barrett v. Robert Half Corporation, No. 2:15-cv-06245, plaintiff was terminated from his employment with defendant after he received positive test results for marijuana. He had complied with a mandatory drug test at his employer’s insistence.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging failure to accommodate and discrimination based on disability according to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). However, the court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint for procedural reasons and found that he simply pleaded that he informed defendants of his license to use medical marijuana to treat his disability. The court found that he did not claim that he asked for help concerning his disability.

 
If you are facing discrimination in the workplace, contact the attorneys at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza P.C.

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