Medical marijuana users are now a protected class in Massachusetts after the state's highest court declared that workers dismissed for positive drug tests can launch anti-discrimination suits against their former employers.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously ruled on Monday that workers who have been fired from their jobs because of failed drug tests "may seek a remedy through claims of handicap discrimination," though it stopped short of holding that such firings qualify as "wrongful termination." The court ruled that granting exemptions to drug testing for medical marijuana patients represented a "reasonable accommodation" for employers to make.
"The use and possession of medically prescribed marijuana by a qualifying patient is as lawful as the use and possession of any other prescribed medication," Chief Justice Ralph Gants said in theruling. "The company's policy prohibiting any use of marijuana is applied against a handicapped employee who is being treated with marijuana by a licensed physician for her medical condition, the termination of the employee for violating that policy effectively denies a handicapped employee the opportunity of a reasonable accommodation, and therefore is appropriately recognized as handicap discrimination."