Although state law in Oregon now allows for the use of marijuana, when approved by a physician, in many medical conditions, the state’s high court ruled last week that employers do not have to cater to those people with medical marijuana authorization if their use violates a workplace policy.
The ruling overturns a decision by the Bureau of Labor and Industries and a following affirmation by the Oregon Court of Appeals. What affect this has on employees and states across the country remains to be seen.
The case involved a man who was authorized to use medical marijuana after a doctor determined he has a medical condition that could be managed by smoking pot. The condition caused the man to have severe anxiety, panic attacks, nausea, and vomiting. According to the Oregonian, he was using marijuana 1-3 times a day though not using it at work.
He was employed by a large industry with many large machines and “dangerous pieces of equipment”. When the man admitted to his employer that he was a medical marijuana user he was soon fired. The Bureau of Labor sided with the man, awarding him lost wages and additional funds for emotional suffering.
The state’s high court determined that the state must divert to federal law, however, when considering employment. They state that employers can keep zero-tolerance drug policies in place, potentially displacing medical marijuana users.
This story is just one example of how the enactment of medical marijuana laws does not mean the substance will be without tight regulation. It also provokes many questions about what type of restrictions would be faced if the substance was legalized across the board.
Until that time, however, we will have to deal with the marijuana laws as they stand. Currently, Oregon has some of the more lax marijuana laws in the country. If you are caught in possession of less than one ounce, you will typically only face a fine.
However, if you cross that one ounce threshold, you will face a felony charge.
When facing charges of marijuana possession or even possession with intent to distribute, you need a defense lawyer who knows their way around the sometimes confusing marijuana laws. Contact our attorneys to discuss the details of your case.