Medical Marijuana Creates Sticky Situation For Employers

As 13 other states have followed California to approve medical marijuana, and another 12 are pondering similar laws, employers -- especially those in this pot capital -- are faced with a quandary: What to do about workers stoned on the job who have doctors' approval for pot?

According to Crain's/businessinsurance.com, courts have generally sided with employers that want to ban marijuana use and influence from their workplaces despite state laws that allow it as medication. However, many businesses are still concerned about being sued should they come between this particular medication and and an employee's paycheck.

"It really creates a Catch-22 for employers," Richard R. Meneghello, a partner with law firm Fisher & Phillips L.L.P. in Portland, told the news service. "If they try to discipline an employee or not allow medical marijuana in the workplace, they could face a potential disability discrimination claim by the employee, or could they face some other invasion of privacy or legal action by the employee ... Yet if they try to accommodate the employee, then they could face a potential safety issue if the employee shows up for work impaired and injures himself and others."

What's the difference between coming to work stoned and showing up zoned out on a prescription drug that an employee might need to function? The courts might have to decide.

"It's no different than if somebody had Percocet and they weren't supposed to use it during work" but "wanted to take it during a work break," said Denver attorney Vance O. Knapp.


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