Rethinking Healthcare

Washington rules: Employers can fire you if you smoke medical marijuana

Washington rules: Employers can fire you if you smoke medical marijuana

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Last Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that if you were a medical marijuana user, your employer could fire you for your medical marijuana use, even if you were prescribed to use the drug for medical purposes.

Last Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that if you were a medical marijuana user, your employer could fire you for your medical marijuana use, even if you were prescribed to use the drug for medical purposes.

From the case statement:

"Jane Roe suffered from debilitating migraine headaches that caused chronic pain, nausea, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light."

According to the ruling:

"We hold that MUMA does not provide a private cause of action for discharge of an employee who uses medical marijuana, either expressly or impliedly, nor does MUMA create a clear public policy that would support a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of such a policy."

Not all residents in the state of Washington agree with this ruling. Col Krell, a 22-year-old male in Spokane, Washington, spoke about his own medical marijuana use and the detrimental effect such a ruling would have on his peers. Krell, who works as a construction worker, uses medical marijuana for Stickler syndrome and a severe case of arthritis.

"My boss knows that I am a medical marijuana user," said Krell. "But he's fine with it."

"I think what they did was horrible," said Krell, in reference to the Washington Supreme Court ruling.

"Workers have to keep quiet and not talk about it in the workplace."

Jerry Mallinson, a 23-year-old male from Spokane, understands this all too well. After a bad accident, he was given a card for medical marijuana, which was prescribed for his chronic pain. Before his accident, Mallinson refrained from marijuana use. But even he admits there are stereotypes. In an interview with SmartPlanet, Mallinson admitted that his medical marijuana use may have played a role in his dismissal from his previous rental.

"After an unscheduled inspection, I was given a notice to leave," said Mallinson.

Mallinson, who is self-employed, says that his use may play a role in future employment if he decides to switch jobs where a drug test is required.

"I wouldn't make it an issue,” said Mallinson. “But I’d probably have to tell.”

According to a report from Newsok.com,

"Justices said in their 8-1 decision that state law does not provide any employment protections for medical marijuana users and does not require companies to accommodate those patients."

On the other hand, some local residents in Washington support this ruling. In an interview with SmartPlanet, Jessica  Menhenson, a 32-year-old female from Everett, Washington, shared her disapproval of medical marijuana in the workplace.

“If anyone I knew at work was prescribed medical marijuana, I wouldn’t want to work with them,” said Menhenson.

Tell us: What are your thoughts about this ruling? Should employers be allowed to fire workers who are using medical marijuana for medical treatment? Do employees have the right to voice an opinion over another co-worker's use?

Image: via Flickr Scott Beale/ Laughing Squid

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Stacy Lipson

Contributing Writer

Contributing Writer Stacy Lipson has written for Natural Health, MSNBC's Body Odd, HealthDay.com, Sprig.com, BNET.com, MarieClaire.com, MyDaily.com and Lemondrop.com. He holds a degree from Temple University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure