More and more states are legalizing marijuana use for medical conditions, and employers are struggling to keep up with the changing laws. Courts in at least six states where medical marijuana use is legal have held that employers have a right to enforce zero tolerance drug policies. But recent cases in Rhode Island and Massachusetts could set a different precedent.
In Rhode Island, the Superior Court held that an employer could not refuse to hire a cardholder for medical marijuana, even if the employee would fail a mandatory drug test as a prerequisite for employment.
Similarly, in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that an employee who was terminated after testing positive for marijuana as a result of a lawful prescription may assert a claim of handicap discrimination under state law. They stated further that even if an employer has a drug policy prohibiting the use of medical marijuana, the employer has a duty to engage with the employee to determine if there are other equally effective alternatives. If not, the employer must show that the marijuana use would cause the company undue hardship.