Fired for Flunking Drug Tests, Medical Marijuana Patients Win Protections in New Jersey

April 24, 2019 AT 6:20 AM

By Susan K. Livio

New Jersey workers can’t be fired if they flunk a drug test because they are medical marijuana patients, a state appeals court has ruled.

The case is likely to reverberate in workplaces for years to come because a state appeals court says medical marijuana patients — as long as they are not under the influence at work — are protected by the state Law Against Discrimination.

There are about 45,000 registered patients in the program with about 2,000 joining every month, according to the state Department of Health.

“The sweeping effect is you can no longer say, ‘You (tested) positive — you are outta here,’ ” said Maxine “Mickey” Neuhauser, an employment expert with the Newark office of the Epstein Becker and Green national law firm.

“There had been a general belief that since marijuana is illegal under federal law, employers would not have to accommodate its use by employees, even if they had a prescription for it and using it legally under state law,” Neuhauser said. “This appellate case very strongly came down in the opposite direction following the lead of other states confronted with the same issue.”

The March 27 state Appellate decision is based on a discrimination lawsuit filed by Justin Wild, 41, a man diagnosed with cancer who was fired from his director’s job at the Feeney Funeral Home in Ridgewood in 2016.

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