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Justices To Review Medical Marijuana Firing


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The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to decide whether employers can terminate employees for lawfully using medical marijuana.
The case concerns a former computer systems administrator for a Sacramento telecommunications company who was fired after eight days on the job because he tested positive for marijuana, despite the employee having a lawful recommendation by a doctor to use marijuana to alleviate back pain from a previous Air Force injury.

The justices neither commented on the case nor said when they would hear it.

Gary Ross, who was fired in 2001, sued for wrongful termination and employment discrimination, claiming he had a right to use marijuana under California's 1996 Compassionate Use Act. He said marijuana did not hinder his work performance.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento dismissed the case, saying "employers have legitimate interests in not employing persons who use illegal drugs."

Ross appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The Sacramento appeals court ruled that marijuana was illegal under federal law, so the California courts have "no legitimate authority to require an employer to accommodate an employee's use of marijuana, even if it is for medicinal purposes and thus legal under California law."

In June, the U.S Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that state laws don't make medical marijuana patients immune from the federal ban on the drug. Ten states have laws permitting medical marijuana that are at odds with the federal ban.

The case is Ross v. Ragingwire, S138130.

Editors: David Kravets has been covering state and federal courts for more than a decade.

Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Author: David Kravets, AP Legal Affairs Writer
Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Copyright: 2005 The Associated Press
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