Employers Can’t Discriminate Against Medical Cannabis Patients, US District Court Judge Rules

New Haven, CT: A federal judge for the US District Court of Connecticut has ruled that an employer engaged in discrimination by rescinding a job offer to an employee solely based on her status as a medical cannabis patient.

Opining for the Court, Judge Jeffrey Alker Mayer wrote: “[T]here is no legitimate dispute that defendant’s rescinding of plaintiff’s job offer was contrary to plaintiff’s right not to be subject to discrimination because of her status as a qualifying patient under PUMA (the Connecticut Palliative Use of Marijuana Act).” He therefore concluded, “[The] plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law in her favor on her claim of employment discrimination under PUMA.”

Connecticut’s medical cannabis law explicitly states,No employer may refuse to hire a person or may discharge, penalize or threaten an employee solely on the basis of such person’s or employee’s status as a qualifying patient.”

The ruling follows that of a similar decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2017 which determined that state-registered medical cannabis patients may sue a private employer for discrimination if they are fired solely as a result of their off-the-job marijuana use.

By contrast, courts in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have previously ruled in favor of employers’ ability to sanction employees without cause for their state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis.

The case is Noffsinger v Niantic Operating Company LLC.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, or Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500.