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Marijuana Users Face Workplace Discrimination



Many employers require a drug test before hiring, and one of the substances those tests screen for is marijuana-even in states like Colorado, where marijuana is now legal. Employers say it may be a legal substance now, but they still have the right to turn down a candidate for using marijuana.

One of the most common reasons for a positive drug test is marijuana use, partly because it's a popular drug, and partly because THC is stored in fat cells. That means that those who engage in party drug or prescription drug use may test negative as little as two or three days after use. However, THC can show up 45 days after smoking marijuana.

In at-will employment states, businesses can fire someone at any time for any reason, and that includes legal drug use. Some states have provisions that state that an employee can't be terminated for what they do on their own, private time, like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. But because of the way THC lingers inside the body, marijuana users could face termination from some employers even if they haven't smoked in weeks.

West Virginia is an at-will employment state, and also has laws protecting employees from being retaliated against for using tobacco products off-site and while off the clock (WV Code Sec. 21-3-19). If marijuana becomes legal in West Virginia in the future, it will remain to be seen if this law is used to protect employees from being fired or demoted for marijuana use while off-duty.

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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