Medical marijuana a challenge in the workplace

4:37 PM, Mar 29, 2013   |    comments
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PORTLAND, Maine (NECN) - Ryan Begin is an Iraq war veteran with an arm injury that causes extreme pain. Maine law now allows him, with a doctor's recommendation, to use medical marijuana to ease that pain.

It's a new treatment for him, and presents new challenges to employers in Maine who are trying to navigate the law. Charles Einseidler, a labor and employment attorney, says workers are starting to pull out their medical marijuana cards and employers aren't sure how to respond.

At the Rufus Deering Lumber Company in Portland, they do random drug testing for their employees that operate heavy equipment. So far the issue of medical marijuana hasn't come up and isn't on their radar, acknowledge, probably should be."

One employer is now dealing with the issue in court. The Maine Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Maine woman who claims she wasn't hired by a temp agency because she failed the applicant drug test. She uses medical marijuana for back pain.

The MCLU says the medical marijuana law makes it illegal for Maine employers to discriminate against people who are medical marijuana users and are complying with the law. But just because you have the card, doesn't mean you can smoke pot at work.

Public attitudes are changing, laws are changing, now employers have to figure out how to change with them.


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