Medical marijuana patient says he was fired for using marijuana
An interesting lawsuit has popped up in Superior Court in Cumberland County. Joseph B. Cobb III filed suit against his former employer Ardagh Glass. He says he was fired after failing a drug test. However the drug in question is marijuana for which Cobb is allowed to use for medical purposes.
About a year into working for the company he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. That's a disorder which attacks the body's connective tissue. The nervous system along with the heart, skin, and lungs can be compromised by the disease. At first he was prescribed opioids to manage his pain. According to the suit he "excelled in his position for the years he worked" managing his pain this way. Early this year his doctor advised switching to medical marijuana, which he did. On March 12, he was using a machine that had safety guards allegedly removed and fractured his hand. Policy required him to submit to a drug and alcohol screen. Even though the day after the accident Cobb showed all his medical marijuana credentials to Ardagh and explained he was not using medical marijuana during or even prior to his shift and was not under its influence, when the test showed marijuana in his system he was told he either had to enter rehab "for his drug problem" or be fired. An nj.com article says the company had no comment.
Looking into this, I see that while New Jersey has a medical marijuana program we still don't have any sound law on job protection for patients. There was legislation in 2015 that would afford some protection from firing for medical marijuana patients as long as they weren't actively impaired while on the job and as long as the marijuana didn't impact their job performance. That legislative battle continues. Given Governor Chris Christie's clear disdain for the medical marijuana program, and marijuana in general, I wouldn't hold my breath on any protections coming until after January of 2018.
We live in a state where you can be fired at will for practically anything. But if we have a legitimate medical marijuana program, shouldn't the patient have the right to not be subject to the arbitrary whim of an employer? If it's illegal to fire someone in a wheel chair because you don't want to make a reasonable accommodation to their desk, shouldn't it also be illegal to fire a legit medical marijuana patient because they use it when they are not on the job? Take our poll below.