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NJ Court Rules, “You Can’t Be Fired For Failing a Drug Test Because of Medical Marijuana”

October 10, 2020

This year, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a ruling that workers in New Jersey cannot be fired by their employer for failing a drug test due to their legal use of medical marijuana.

Read more: How New Jersey’s New Medical Marijuana Laws Affect Drug Possession Charges

New Jersey Supreme Court Rules Workers Who Use Medical Marijuana Protected from Termination

The court ruled that lawful users of medical marijuana were protected from termination due to a positive drug test revealing the presence of marijuana in their system, so long as a worker is not under the influence of marijuana while on duty. 

The case involved a funeral director who had been diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and prescribed medical marijuana by his physician. When the man got into a work-related car accident, he advised his employer of his use of medical marijuana. Although the accident was deemed to not be the man’s fault and the emergency room physician observed no signs that the man was under the influence, his employer demanded a drug test and fired him when it came back positive. The man filed suit against his employer, arguing that he had been discriminated against. The supreme court’s ruling now allows the man to pursue his case against his former employer in the trial court.

Can You Be Arrested for Medical Marijuana Use?

Even though medical marijuana is legal in New Jersey under the Compassionate Use Act, it is possible for a person to be arrested for using medical marijuana.

Under the Act, a person must first be authorized by the state Department of Health to use medical marijuana; an authorized individual will receive a card that signifies his or her authorization. Police are authorized to secure information that verifies whether a person is authorized for medical marijuana use, including the validity of a medical marijuana card. 

Police may still arrest people authorized to use medical marijuana if they:

  • Operate vehicles under the influence of marijuana
  • Possess marijuana not obtained from an authorized dispensary
  • Smoke or consume marijuana products in a prohibited location (such as school property)
  • Distribute lawfully obtained marijuana
  • Smoke or consume marijuana in a moving vehicle, even if the user is only a passenger (users may smoke or consume marijuana in a parked vehicle, unless the vehicle is a school bus or other form of public transportation)

Medical marijuana cards obtained in other states are not valid in New Jersey, nor are New Jersey medical marijuana cards valid in other states. You must first obtain a New Jersey medical marijuana card before obtaining or using marijuana in New Jersey.

What You Should Do If You Are Arrested for Using Medical Marijuana

If you have been arrested for possession or use of marijuana in New Jersey but you have a valid medical marijuana card, you need to speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Many police officers may not fully understand your rights under the Compassionate Use Act, so your arrest may simply have been in error. A criminal defense lawyer can help clear up any confusion and prove your authorization to possess and use medical marijuana.

Read more: How to Get a Possession Charge Dismissed in New Jersey

Contact an Experienced Woodbridge Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Drug Charges in New Jersey

Were you arrested or charged with drug possession in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio have successfully represented clients charged with marijuana possession in Middlesex County, Mercer County, Union County, Ocean County, and throughout New Jersey. Call (732) 334-7468 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 227 Main Street, Woodbridge, NJ 07095 as well as offices located in Princeton, Freehold, Jersey City, and Mount Laurel.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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