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Monday, June 13, 2011

Medical Marijuana Law Changes

While some states are moving forward with their medical marijuana programs, some states are backtracking ignoring the fact that their citizens voted for medical marijuana. States that have gone ahead with medical marijuana programs typically have protected their citizens against punishment or losing one's job for failing a drug test where they tested positive for marijuana. Shortly after legislators in Montana began trying to overturn the medical marijuana law, Washington legislators began following suit making it more difficult for people to participate in the medical marijuana program. In Montana, the Governor vetoed such legislation from moving forward due to the fact that 62 percent of the population voted for medical marijuana.

The Supreme Court in Washington ruled that employees in Washington state can be fired if they fail a drug test, even if they have a medical-marijuana authorization from a physician. The court ruled in an 8-1 vote that state law permitted employers to prohibit medical marijuana use on the job, but failed to deal with use outside of work. Unbelievably, since medical marijuana use is illegal under federal law, the state’s Human Rights Commission, which deals with employee discrimination, lacks the ability to look at claims related to medical-marijuana use.

Justice Tom Chambers wrote that when Washington state voters passed a medical-marijuana law in 1998, their intent was to protect patients prescribed marijuana for medical purposes. He added that based off of the court’s decision this will detract people from looking into legal medical-marijuana treatment out of concern they could lose their jobs. The fact of the matter is that marijuana, for a number of reasons, remains illegal according to the Federal government, which means that citizens who think that their state of residence will protect them against repercussions due to using medical marijuana are sorely mistaken. Several other states are currently working to amend their medical marijuana laws.

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