In December New Jersey's first medical marijuana dispensary opened, about three years after the state legalized the use of marijuana for some medical purposes. However, fewer than 400 New Jersey residents have obtained a state license for marijuana.
Even with the small number of participants in the state's medical marijuana program, employers and employment law attorneys are grappling with questions of how medical marijuana could affect the workplace. Understandably, some employers are concerned that marijuana could affect employees' performance. But employers should reconsider before making employment decisions based on marijuana use.
There will likely be a distinction drawn between using marijuana on or off company premises. Workplaces will need clear drug policies to outline what is acceptable. This could also raise questions of disability discrimination. Employers may not discriminate on the basis of a person's disability, of which medical marijuana use could be evidence.
State and federal law protects employees and those seeking employment from discrimination based on their membership in a protected class. Protected classes include characteristics such as age, gender, disability status or race.
If you an employee or job applicant who has suffered an adverse event in the workplace as a result of your race, age, disability status, criminal record or other personal characteristic, you may have a claim for employment discrimination. In this situation, it is important to seek help from someone who can identify with your situation and help you. Consider speaking with an experienced employment law attorney who can help your protect your future - and your career.
Source: The New Jersey Newsroom, "New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Law Impacts Employers," CJ Griffin, Jan. 14, 2013
To learn more about employment discrimination in New Jersey, please visit our website.