According to the court, the 1998 Washington State Medical Use of Marijuana Act does not provide a safeguard for employees who have received medical approval to use marijuana. ''Nothing in the 1998 Voter's Pamphlet demonstrates that an average voter would understand the proposed initiative to offer employment protections to medical marijuana users,'' wrote Justice Charles K. Wiggins.
The court's ruling follows a 2007 lawsuit by a former TeleTech Customer Care Management employee who is referred to as Jane Roe in court documents. Roe was fired from the company in 2006, after receiving positive results on a pre-employment drug screen test. Before it reached the state Supreme Court, a Kitsap County Superior Court judge threw the case out, a decision that was later upheld by the Tacoma-based Court of Appeals.
Before receiving the results of her drug test, Roe informed TeleTech that she would test positive and provided the company with proof that she was authorized to use marijuana for migraine headaches and neck pain. However, despite Roe's insistence that the law protected her right to use the drug for medical purposes while away from work, the company cited its zero tolerance drug policy and released her from employment.
Aside from stating that employers are not obligated to enable medical marijuana use at the worksite, the law fails to detail how employers are expected to respond to an employee who has the authorization to use the drug. Roe, a mother of three, argues that since she had acquired the proper permission to use marijuana and had never used it at work, she should be protected under the medical marijuana law.
However, according to the majority opinion, the law does not govern private employers and therefore does not offer employment protection for those who use medical marijuana. In the majority opinion, Wiggins further pointed out that the use of marijuana, under any circumstances, is illegal by the standards of federal law.
Jim Shore, the attorney for TeleTech, asserted that the medical marijuana law was not designed to address worker's rights. Rather, he said, its purpose is to provide a legal defense
for marijuana users and health care workers, who abide by all legal requirements.
Justice Tom Chambers disagreed and wrote that ''Roe seems to be exactly the sort of person the people intended to protect,'' with the implementation of the medical marijuana law.
There were very good leads available and will surely recommend it to colleagues.
Kelly AnnÂ Hicks
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