The New York Times reports that sick and disabled workers still run the risk of losing their jobs if they use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Citing ancedotal evidence and opinions from employment experts, the Times found that marijuana users remain persona non grata in most places of employment, even in Colorado and Washington, the two states that legalized pot for recreational use.
Here are the highlights:
- Paralized since he was 16, Brandon Coats had been using medical marijuana since 2009 to relieve painful body spasms. He was fired from his jobs answering customer calls for a Colorado satellite-television provider after a random drug test came back positive for marijuana. “Please do not apply if you are NOT drug free or carry a medical marijuana card,” warns one job listing for a mechanic in Denver.
- A job listing for a mechanic job in Denver warns: “Please do not apply if you are NOT drug free or carry a medical marijuana card.” In Seattle, welders applying with a recycling center are told they are applying with “zero-tolerance company including marijuana!!”
- A 2012 survey by Colorado’s Mountain States Employers Council, which represents 3,500 companies, found that 71 percent kept their drug-testing policies and 21 percent imposed harsher rules.
- Another survey, by drug tester Quest Diagnostics, found that positive results for marijuana rose in both Colorado and Washington in the year after legalization measures passed.
- New Mexico resident and physician assistant Donna Smith lost her healthcare job after failing a drug test. She uses marijuana to treat her post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Even marijuana-related companies check employees to see if they are high. Vaporizer maker Open Vape screens workers to see if they are red-eyed and acting hazy.