New Jersey Medical Cannabis Patient Sues Former Employer

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A New Jersey medical cannabis patient is suing his employer, claiming he was fired for off-clock cannabis use, reports NJ.com. Jamal Campbell filed his lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in April against refiner Watco Companies and Watco Transloading LLC alleging the company violated New Jersey Medical Cannabis Law and state anti-discrimination laws.

According to the lawsuit outlined by NJ.com, Campbell injured his back while working in 2016 and became a medical cannabis patient in 2018 for pain associated with a bulging disc. The lawsuit alleges that Campbell never used cannabis at work or came to work under the influence.

Campbell was an operator at the company from 2014 to December 2020, primarily loading freight trains when a manager told him he had to do a random drug test. Campbell said he was going to fail because of his medicinal cannabis use, but the manager said he had to stick to it or risk losing his job. Campbell eventually tested positive for cannabis and was fired.

Campbell also alleges the Kansas-based company violated New Jersey workplace discrimination laws by failing to find reasonable accommodation for his disability and prescribed medical cannabis use, the report said.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled last year that companies cannot fire medical cannabis patients who use cannabis unless they use it at work and that state law protects medical cannabis patients from discrimination. In April, the court ruled that employers must pay monthly medical cannabis bills for workers injured in the workplace.

The state’s cannabis legalization law also protects employees from being dismissed for using cannabis and does not include exceptions for safety-related jobs, but does include exceptions for federal employees and some federal entrepreneurs. Rachel Haskell, an associate in Christopher Q. Davis’s law firm who represents Campbell, told NJ.com that there is no state precedent for “what is security related.”

“We believe that both the Jake Honey Act and the Anti-Discrimination Act would provide protection for people who use medical marijuana in addition to the requirements for the interactive process in providing shelter.” —Haskell to NJ.com

Under the Legalization Act passed in February, New Jersey employers can still conduct drug testing for cannabis, but must be accompanied by an expert report on impairment in the workplace that witnessed impaired behavior, according to NJ.com.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court because Watco is based out of state. A company spokesman did not want to comment on the lawsuit.

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TG joined Ganjapreneur in 2014 as a news writer and began hosting the Ganjapreneur podcast in 2016. He lives in New York State, where he also teaches media studies at a local university.