Washington State Court Upholds Firing Of Medical Marijuana Patient


The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that an employer can fire a worker who uses medical marijuana, even when the worker uses marijuana only at home and no problems while on the job.

Washington Marijuana

The state's supreme court has upheld a Bremerton woman's firing from Teletech for failing a drug test, even though she had disclosed to the company that she had been authorized to use medical marijuana under state law, according to Josh Farley of the Kitsap Sun.

In the decision issued Thursday, the court found that the state's medical marijuana law, which protects patients from criminal prosecutions, allows no recourse in employment disputes.

The law, passed by voters in 1998, does not protect workers whose bosses fire them for marijuana use, even if state law allows them to use it.

The woman, dubbed Jane Doe, got a job at a call center in Bremerton in 2006 but the call center soon fired her after she failed a drug test. She told the company, Colorado-based Teletech Customer Care Management, that she used marijuana prescribed by her doctor. She was authorized in the State of Washington to use marijuana for pain related to chronic migraine headaches.

James Shore, Teletech's attorney, argued the law passed by voters is specific, providing only a defense in court to patients who have a doctors' recommendation.

Gov Gregoire Evil

Justice Charles K. Wiggins, the decision's lead author, wrote that federal law bans the drug in all forms, including for medical use.

Justice Tom Chambers wrote a strongly worded dissent, arguing "Roe seems to be exactly the sort of person the people intended to protect" when they passed the initiative.

"The court today makes an exacting, logically defensible, minute examination of the Washington State Medical Use of Marijuana Act ... and concludes that our law, like conventional medicine, affords Jane Doe no relief."

He "urged" the Legislature to provide an overhaul to the law and,"to thoughtfully review and improve the act."

The Legislature passed an extensive medical marijuana bill expanding upon the law this spring only to see most of the protections vetoed by Gov. Chris Gregoire.