Can Employers Fire Employees for Legal Marijuana Use?

July 28, 2015

The legalization of medical and recreational marijuana use in a number of states does not necessarily mean that employers in such states must except marijuana use from their drug-free workplace policies.  Of course, this does not sit right with many-

The Supreme Court of Colorado recently held that an employer could fire an employee who tested positive for marijuana despite the employee’s legal use of the drug for medical purposes while off the job and no evidence of impairment while at work.  Courts in California, Montana, Oregon, and Washington have also found that employers retain the right to terminate employees under such circumstances.  In contrast, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and Rhode Island have laws on the books prohibiting employment terminations on the basis of medical marijuana use if the employee is not found to be impaired while on the job.  It should be noted that federal laws, including the ADA, do not protect marijuana use of any kind given that marijuana use is still illegal under federal law.