COURT: N.J. employers aren’t obligated to permit medical marijuana use

CAMDEN, NJ — It is discriminatory if an employer refuses to waive its company’s drug test requirement for a medical marijuana user?

No, according to a ruling from a federal judge in Camden.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler ruled that a forklift driver for the Cumberland County-based company Ardagh Glass who used medical marijuana wasn’t discriminated against pursuant to either the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination or the New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act; specifically, the Court held that the Act does not require employers to allow employees to use medical marijuana, only protect legal users from both criminal liability as well as certain applicable civil penalties.

“As an initial matter, Plaintiff appears to be qualified to work as a forklift operator: he has done so for a period of five years, apparently without issue until the events giving rise to this litigation,” explained the federal judge, dismissed the plaintiff’s disability discrimination suit. “But it bears repeating that Plaintiff’s complaint does not claim that Ardagh Glass discriminated against him based on his disability as such (i.e., his neck and back pain). Rather, Plaintiff alleges that his employer discriminated against him by refusing to accommodate his use of medical marijuana by waiving a drug test.”

“In other words, Ardagh Glass had a condition of employment which Plaintiff was unable or unwilling to meet,” summarized Kugler.

What about the simmering marijuana legalization/decriminalization debate happening at the state level? 

“The Court notes that both parties cite past, pending, and future proposed legislation concerning the scope and status of legalized medical marijuana in New Jersey when arguing that the statute should be construed this way or that. This is completely irrelevant,” Kugler added. “Proposed amendments are just that: proposals. A legislature may refuse to enact a proposal just as swiftly as someone might turn down a wedding ring.”