Recently, Congressmen Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) introduced the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011,” which would allow states to determine their own marijuana rules without interference from Washington, DC. If this law passed, states could choose among banning marijuana entirely, making it medically available, decriminalizing its possession or taxing and regulating it like the government does with alcohol.
What does this mean for Florida employers? If Florida ever passed a law legalizing marijuana, employers may want to ban use of the drug by their employees – inside and outside the workplace.
In states like Washington, Oregon and California, where medical marijuana use is currently legal, employers may still choose to prohibit drug use to maintain a drug-free workplace. Washington’s Supreme Court recently announced that the state’s law does not provide employment protection to employees that use marijuana – even medically.
In the case, Jane Roe (a pseudonym) sued her former employer, TeleTech Care Management LLC, for wrongful firing based on her lawful use of the drug. Roe was given authorization to use marijuana for medical purposes in June 2006 to treat chronic migraines. When she was offered a job with TeleTech in October 2006, the job was contingent upon the negative results a drug test. Roe was terminated two weeks later when she failed the company’s drug test.
The Washington Supreme Court found that the statute explicitly stated that employers do not have to accommodate medical marijuana use in the workplace. Even if it did, the Supreme Court said that giving an employment right under the state law to accommodate medical marijuana use would mean requiring employers to engage in illegal activity under federal law.