A federal judge last month ruled that the nursing home, which had cited federal laws against pot use, violated an anti-discrimination provision of the
It was the latest in a series of clashes between
Advocates hope the new decisions are a signal of growing acceptance of cannabis’ medicinal value.
“This decision reflects the rapidly changing cultural and legal status of cannabis, and affirms that employers should not be able to discriminate against those who use marijuana responsibly while off the job, in compliance with the laws of their state,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, a pro-marijuana group.
She told the nursing home that she took synthetic marijuana pills — legally under state law and only at night — to treat the post-traumatic stress disorder she developed after the 2012 car accident. But the company rescinded the job offer after the drug test came back positive for THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets people high.
As a federal contractor, the nursing home worried that it could be cut off from that revenue if it employed somebody who tested positive.
On , U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Meyer in
A lawyer for the nursing home, Thomas Blatchley, declined to comment.
Noffsinger’s attorney, Henry Murray, said Noffsinger would not comment on the lawsuit. He said Noffsinger has taken another job in the health care industry that doesn’t pay as much as the
In his ruling, Meyer said the federal Drug Free Workplace Act, which many employers including federal contractors rely on for policies on drug testing, does not actually require drug testing and does not prohibit federal contractors from employing people who use medical marijuana outside the workplace in accordance with state law.
The decision will likely be used in arguments in similar cases elsewhere, said Fiona Ong, an employment attorney with the
“This is a very significant case that throws the issue in doubt for many of these federal contractors,” Ong said. “It’s certainly interesting and may be indicative of where the courts are going with this.”
Only nine states including
In both cases, the two women told the companies during the hiring process that they used medical marijuana, but would not consume it while on the job.
Several bills are pending before Congress that would undo marijuana’s classification as a controlled substance with no medicinal value. But Armentano, of NORML, said it is unlikely they will go anywhere while Republicans control Congress.
Some employers, though, have dropped marijuana from the drug tests they require of employees, saying the testing excludes too many potential workers in a challenging hiring environment.