The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t protect employees or applicants who currently use “illegal” drugs when an employer takes adverse action based on drug use. Courts have said the ADA defines “illegal drug use” by reference to the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I illegal narcotic.
State laws that authorize medical marijuana use directly conflict with federal disability discrimination laws and parallel state statutes, rendering employers’ legal obligations to individuals with disabilities unclear. Employees who seek permission to use medical marijuana as an accommodation for a disability may have accommodation rights under state medical marijuana statutes but no accommodation rights under disability laws.
Rachel Atterberry, partner in the Labor and Employment Practice at Freeborn & Peters LLP, in an interview with Bloomberg BNA explores the interplay between medical marijuana and disability laws and recent court decisions discussing employment issues. [Read more at Bloomberg BNA]