New Jersey medical marijuana patients won a significant victory in the fight for equality this week, as the Garden State Supreme Court adjourned a ruling that protects cannabis patients from employment discrimination. In other words, workers who are registered medical marijuana patients can no longer be fired for failing a drug test.
According to NJ.com, the ruling was in response to a case about the firing of a New Jersey funeral director named Justin Wild. While employed, Wild was involved in a car crash, but was deemed to be not at fault for the accident. During a subsequent drug test, though, the funeral director tested positive for THC and was immediately fired. Wild was a registered medical marijuana patient suffering from cancer.
Wild subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging employment discrimination against medical marijuana users, which brought the issue of protections for cannabis consumers front and center. After a Superior Court judge dismissed his case, an appellate court ended up ruling in favor of Wild.
As a result of the case, New Jersey’s 70,000-plus registered medical marijuana patients will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
"This protects hundreds, if not thousands of employees [who’ve faced the] stigma of marijuana,” Jamison Mark, Wild’s lawyer, told reporters after the ruling.
The employment discrimination case comes as New Jersey activists once again push Garden State leaders to enact full-scale cannabis reform and legalize the plant entirely. Despite a failed promise from the Governor to legalize last year, New Jersey cannabis advocates have so far had to settle for expanded medical access and additional court injunctions, including a separate ruling that ensures workers’ compensation can cover medical marijuana for legal patients.
As for Wild, the former funeral director will be able to continue his lawsuit against his ex employer — this time with a little more ammunition in his pocket.
“It would be ironic indeed if the Compassionate Use Act limited the Law Against Discrimination to permit an employer’s termination of a cancer patient’s employment by discriminating without compassion,” a Jersey Superior Court judge wrote in an early ruling on Wild’s case.
Across the legal weed landscape, employee protections for legal pot users have begun to pick up steam, with employers and courts alike finally coming to grips with the plant’s shifting legal and social status.
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