Legalizing Marijuana – Off-Duty Use – An Employer’s Quandary

More and more cities and states are legalizing the use of marijuana for medical and recreational use. The good news is that means in those jurisdictions the local and state police will not arrest you if your use conforms to the local/state law-medical use states require a prescription and recreational use laws usually limit the amount of marijuana one can possess. In addition, federal prosecutors, at least under the current administration, will not prosecute you for use, which is legal under state and local laws. Marijuana use is still illegal under federal law since it is listed as a schedule 1 controlled substance. That means its use is not protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) because the ADA does not protect the current use of an illegal drug. Moreover, most employees are at-will employees, so they can be fired for good cause, bad cause, or no cause. Thus, if an employer wants to fire employees who use marijuana away from work, it is likely that the employer can legally do so. It seems clear we are well down a path of change, but where it will lead us is unclear.

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