State-Authorized Medi-Pot Patient May Be Fired For Failing Workplace Drug Test, Oregon Supreme Court Rules

Portland, OR: A private employer may terminate an employee for failing a company drug test, even if that employee is authorized under state law to use cannabis medicinally, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled. The decision reverses a prior ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals that found that employers should make disability-related accommodations for workers who use cannabis for medical purposes.

A majority of the court ruled that the plaintiff did not meet the definition of a “disabled person” under state law because he could offset his symptoms (leg spasms) with prescription medications other than cannabis. “Because plaintiff can counteract his physical impairment through mitigating measures, his impairment does not, at this time, rise to the level of a substantial limitation on a major life activity,” the court found.

In a concurring opinion, one of the judges also held that “federal law preempts state employment discrimination law to the extent that it requires employers to accommodate medical marijuana use.”

A similar case (Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications) is now before the California Supreme Court.

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500. The case is Washburn v. Columbia Forest Products, Inc.