Empowering Individuals (518) 308-8339

TalkLex Blog

Medical Marijuana: Know Your Employment Rights

Posted by Giovanna A. D'Orazio | Apr 20, 2020

New York's Compassionate Care Act legalized the use of medical marijuana. (For some reason, New York uses the old spelling “marihuana” in the statute).  If you are a “certified patient”, the law includes an anti-discrimination provision.  Specifically, certified patients are considered to have a disability within the meaning of the New York State Human Rights Law.  Under the NYHRL, individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination (in hiring, continued employment and in the terms and conditions of their employment) and are entitled to reasonable accommodations.

This protection has some caveats and “shall not bar the enforcement of a policy  prohibiting an employee from performing his or her employment duties while impaired by a controlled substance.  This subdivision  shall  not require  any person or entity to do any act that would put the person or entity in violation of federal  law  or  cause  it  to  lose  a  federal contract or funding.”

The fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, including for medicinal purposes, has resulted in case  law that such use would not be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Cases periodically come up attempting to challenge this conclusion, so we have probably not seen the last word on this.

If you feel you have been discriminated against for legal medical marijuana use, contact us. We are happy to see if we can help.

About the Author

Giovanna A. D'Orazio

Giovanna has experience litigating, among other things, commercial, general civil, employment, land use and personal injury matters in New York State and federal courts. Giovanna focuses her practice on plaintiff's employment and personal injury matters, with a particular interest in women's rights and employment discrimination and harassment.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our list and receive weekly updates about the law (we promise it won't be boring, and we don't share your information with anyone).