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Oregon Supreme Court Sides With Employer in Pot Ruling
In what one legal expert called “a shot across the bow” of medical marijuana supporters, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an employee could be fired for drug use even if holding a state-issued medical marijuana card.
In its 5-2 ruling, the Oregon Supreme Court based the decision on the fact state law is trumped by federal law, which lists marijuana as an illegal drug.
Justice Rives Kistler wrote the majority opinion. In it, he declared “state law does not require an employer to accommodate an employee’s use of marijuana to treat a disabling medical condition.”
Then it notes, “the federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits the possession of marijuana without regard to whether it is used for medicinal purposes.”
The ruling overturns an earlier decision by the Bureau of Labor and Industries, the Oregonian reports. The state bureau had ruled in favor of a worker who was fired after notifying his employer that he used medical marijuana prior to a scheduled drug test. A discrimination suit followed, claiming Emerald Steel Fabricators failed to make reasonable accommodations for the workers disability.
While employers’ organizations, such as Associated Oregon Industries, praising the move, the Bureau of Labor and Industries stood by its decision. Its chief, Brad Avakian, said the decision “seriously undercuts” the states medical marijuana act, which was approved by voters in 1998.