Court Rejects Medical Marijuana Defense
Salem, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an employer didn't have to make an allowance under state disability laws for a worker who used medical marijuana.
The worker, Robert Washburn, was fired from his job as a millwright at a Columbia Forest products plant in Klamath Falls after failing drug tests.
Washburn had a state-issued card allowing him to use marijuana to ease leg spasms that disrupted his sleep. He used the drug at home, but the company, which has a policy prohibiting workers from coming to the plant with controlled substances in their systems, fired him in 2001 after he failed several urine tests.
Washburn sued, saying his condition left him legally disabled and that required the employer to make reasonable accommodations.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court determined Washburn's impairment did not rise to the level of a disability under state law and the employer was not obligated to make allowances for him showing up for work with marijuana in his system.
Washburn initially controlled his leg spasms with standard prescription medications, but his doctor later approved him to participate in Oregon's medical marijuana program. The court determined he was not disabled under state law because his previous medication had successfully treated his condition.