State court ruling deals blow to medical marijuana patient
( dpa )- The California Supreme Court on Thursday backed a company that fired a worker who used marijuana on a doctor's prescription, saying that the drug remained illegal under federal law.
The high court issued the ruling in the case of a Sacramento telecommunications company, RagingWire , which fired a man who flunked a company-ordered drug test, even though he held a medical marijuana card authorizing him to legally use marijuana to treat a back injury sustained while serving in the Air Force.
Ragingwire successfully argued that it rightfully fired Gary Ross because all marijuana use is illegal under federal law, which does not recognize the medical marijuana laws in California and 11 other states.
"No state law could completely legalize marijuana for medical purposes, because the drug remains illegal under federal law," Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote for the 5-2 majority.
The state Supreme Court also said the that the law passed by California voters in a 1996 referendum to legalize medical marijuana had nothing to do with employment laws.
"Nothing in the text or history of the Compassionate Use Act suggests the voters intended the measure to address the respective rights and duties of employers and employees," Werdegar wrote. "Under California law, an employer may require preemployment drug tests and take illegal drug use into consideration in making employment decisions."
Two of the seven justices dissented, saying the ruling "disrespects" the California medical marijuana law, and said that employers should be barred from firing workers who use medical marijuana as long as they continue to perform their jobs adequately.
"The majority gives employers permission to fire any employee who uses marijuana on a doctor's recommendation, without requiring the employer to show that this medical use will in any way impair the employer's business interests," wrote Justice Joyce Kennard.