Medical Marijuana Laws Leave Employers Dazed and Confused

source: By Courtney Rubin | Feb 12, 2010

Medical marijuana laws are designed to ease pain for migraine sufferers and other people with conditions that leave them in chronic pain. Now they are also causing headaches for employers.

Luke Vezey, a Colorado Springs man with a medical marijuana card state law requires to light up legally, was fired from his job for failing a drug test.

Vezey, who suffers from chronic stomach pain, told Colorado's KKTV Thursday: "What I do is strictly for my stomach. I do it out of work, I've never come in under the influence."

He worked as a guard at a private-jail facility which has a zero-tolerance drugs policy he says he was aware of when he was asked to take a random drug test. He failed the test, was placed on leave, and then received a certified letter firing him.

Vezey has hired a lawyer to fight the decision, but Colorado Springs lawyer Kevin Donavon (who is not involved with the case) says the law is confusing.

"There is no prescription, marijuana prescription. It's a recommendation by the doctor and if you have that recommendation that allows you immunity from prosecution," Donavan said. But nothing in the law prevents a user from losing his o her job after a positive drug test. Vezey's former employer declined to comment, citing privacy reasons.

Last month, New Jersey became the 14th state to make marijuana legal for medicinal purposes, and an additional 12 states have pending legislation – meaning more and more employers will find themselves considering adding a Marijuana FAQ to the employee handbook. Only Rhode Island specifically protects workers from being fired for their medical use of the drug.

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