Bill Would Allow Medical-marijuana Users To Be Fired For Failing Drug Tests


420 Staff
Lawmakers in a Senate Committee Debate Proposal

Employees who legally use marijuana under Oregon's voter-passed medical-cannabis laws could be fired for flunking a drug test under a proposed Senate bill under committee consideration Wednesday.

Backers say the law would provide clarity on an issue surfacing in the workplace with increasing frequency. The bill would not just allow employers to remove workers if they are found to be impaired or consuming marijuana on the job but if they test positive for using the substance outside of the workplace.

Opponents of the bill say it unfairly punishes medical-marijuana users working in Oregon. They say that workers can have traces of the drug in their system a month after use and that impairment also can come from a host of other doctor-prescribed and over-the-counter medications.

Lawmakers came down on both sides of the issue.

"I spent 20 years as a professional, commercial helicopter pilot," said Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, who testified in support of the bill. "It is a zero-tolerance-for-drugs industry ... to assure a safe operation in the kind of very dangerous work that we were doing."

Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, who testified before the committee, said that employers should look for obvious signs of impairment, rather than drug tests, to pinpoint whether an employee's ability to carry out their job is affected.

J.L. Wilson, the Oregon director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the law was critical for employers to avoid lawsuits.

"There's a whole host of plaintiff's attorneys looking for business, and this is another avenue for them if you have impaired workers," Wilson said.

Others said the bill would fail to filter out employees who might be impaired by other doctor-prescribed or over-the-counter drugs, such as those that contain codeine, amphetamines or morphine.

"This bill doesn't make us any safer," said Andrea Meyer of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. "It presumes that everyone who is using medical marijuana is impaired while at the same time individuals using other medications are not."

Machinist Lorenzo Gonzales, 43, said he was fired last month from his job with Forest Grove-based Merix after traces of cannabis showed up in his mandatory drug test. The registered medical-marijuana user said that he takes cannabis for chronic pain because of several motorcycle crashes but that he only used the drug at night and that it never impaired his ability in the workplace.

"The job I did was extremely complex, and there's no way I could use my medication and think straight," Gonzales said.

Whether the high-tech manufacturing company had the authority to fire Gonzales, one of Oregon's 12,000 registered medical-marijuana users, is a tricky question.

The bill comes more than a year after the Oregon Supreme Court ruled against millwright Robert Washburn, a medical-marijuana user who was fired from his job at a Columbia Forest Products plant after urine tests showed traces of the drug.

"We all believed we were talking about folks in the last three to six months of their life," Jessica Adamson, the government-affairs manager at Oregon's branch of Associated General Contractors, said of the voter-approved medical-marijuana law. "Not the kind of folks who would get it for back pain and show up on a construction site."

Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2007 The Associated Press
Website: Statesman Journal: Salem news, sports, entertainment. Serving Salem, Oregon.
how sad ,they just dont get it ,Im from montana and I was fired for test positive for weed although im am not a MMJ patient I do use it for medical puposes. among other things, but this was on my time when we were on a two week lay off. They tested on the monday following.In our state they cant test for alchol so the 2or 3 co-workers who came in drunk are still working there:hmmmm: How can they say your still under the influenze when it been 2or 3days or weeks or even months? Maybe I dont get it, maybe I should be a alcholic. NOT:bong:
Isn't there an ADA angle that makes the proposed law invalid (because it conflicts with federal law (huge irony) ). I think that that was one of the arguments advanced when this came up in CA.
The laws of each State will vary on this issue, as it has been discussed for several years since certain states have passed Medical Marijuana laws.
It is well known that Marijuana will reside in the fatty tissues for many days and months after one has used Marijuana.
The fact that Oregon is proposing this Bill will make a lot of Employers happy. What a better way to fire someone for Testing Positive of Marijuana. Medical Patient or not. Insurance Companies do not want to become liable for any Employers action based upon an Employee Using or Testing Positive for Marijuana. It does not matter to them one bit. The Insurance Companies are dictating to their Clients that no Tolerance what so ever of Marijuana in any person system is allowable. This is a direct result to Weed Out (no pun intended) Employees who are not of the Insurance Companies Standards.
Medical Marijuana, and Regualtion and Taxation of Marijuana, should not be intertwined.
It is now, that anyone involved in the True Legalization of Marijuana, and not just for Medical Marijuana, to move forward and push for Regulation and Taxation of all Cannabis products. It is time to end all Prohibition against Marijuana in every state of the United States.
The Information and Education needed to accomplish this, to take forward to the Citizens of each and every corner of the 50 States can be found at the NORMAL headquarters. Work with your fellow Citizens to properly inform and educate as many people as you can to the benefits of Regulating and Taxing of Cannabis Products.
The Finanacial aspects alone will certainly raise awareness as to how this will help many areas that are sinking in Debt overridden Policies that have strpped the people of dignity and respect, in many communities across the United States. It has drained all Law Enforcement on Local, State & Federal levels.
Marijuana Prohibition, has the Prison Systems full of Non Viloent Men & Women that do not belong in prison. Enough is Enough.
The people of the United States are being ripped off, by a policy incepted in 1937 as Prohibition of Cannabis, started by a man who could not hold a job, and was appointed as a favor to his family to keep him out of trouble.
Henry Anslinger was one of the biggest Fuck ups in his time, but managed to pull off the biggest scare and dare tactics, so that the other businesess like Alcohol, and Tobbaco, that are no longer in Prohibition keep making Billions of Dollars for the various families that put this man into that office in 1937. Stand up and repeal all Laws pertaining to Cannabis, in every State.
Cannabis is globally one of the largest businesses to have profit margins that make it lucrative for any person or business to run.
Making the changes needed for Regulation & Taxation of Cannabis in the United States is moving forward, full speed ahead.
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