After a long day at work, Bernadette Coughlin would often come home, take a couple of hits of marijuana from a vape pen, play Candy Crush on her phone and go to bed.

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She didn’t think it was a huge offer; marijuana is legal in< a href=" https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/massachusetts" class=" u-underline"

> Massachusetts and she would never think about going to work high. But then last May, the then 55-year-old stumbled and fell at the Holy Family healthcare facility in Methuen where she worked as a client services manager in the facility’s kitchen for Sodexo, a multi-national food services company.

It ended up that she had broken her wrist and her elbow. When she told her boss she had fallen in the office, she was sent for a drug test. And when that drug test revealed that she had cannabis in her system, she got a telephone call from Sodexo’s personnels department and was fired.

” All of my staff members were in shock. I wasn’t permitted to speak with any of them. It resembled suddenly I was this awful lawbreaker,” she said. Going into the drug test, “it actually didn’t enter my mind that it would have anything to do with marijuana since I knew it was legal at that time. So I actually wasn’t that worried.”

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Using leisure marijuana is now legal in 10 states in addition to the District of Columbia– and more states are thinking about legalising the drug. In the parts of America where marijuana is legal, it is tempting to think about it like alcohol, another mood-altering substance that is regulated by state governments and when faced a federal prohibition. But there is one huge distinction: it is not likely youwill get fired from your task if your manager learns you enjoy a number of glasses of wine on your couch at the end of the day.

While state mindsets on cannabis have moved drastically as legalisation ended up being increasingly typical in recent years, there are still no defenses in place for employees who use the drug recreationally in legal states. While you can’t be jailed for smoking weed in states such as Massachusetts, Colorado or Oregon, there is nothing prohibiting companies from carrying out drug tests on workers or potential hires– and then firing them or not employing them if they have marijuana in their system.

All of my staff members were in shock … It was like suddenly I was this terrible criminal

Bernadette Coughlin

Last month, Massachusetts state senator Jason Lewis presented a bill that would restrict companies from victimizing employees who use the drug. If passed, Massachusetts would be the first legal state in the country to offer such defenses.

Provided that a staff member is not impaired by marijuana at work and uses it just away from the office during off-work hours, the costs states: “An employer may not victimize an individual in working with, termination or enforcing any term or condition of work or otherwise punish a person based on an individual’s usage of marijuana.”

In July 2017, the state’s top court, the Massachusetts supreme judicial court, ruled in favour of a staff member who had been fired for utilizing proposed medical marijuana to help treat low hunger triggered by Crohn’s disease.

However extending protections to workers who use marijuana without a prescription can be difficult and such efforts have stopped working somewhere else in the nation.

Nearby Maine, where marijuana is likewise legal, initially consisted of a provision in its cannabis law where employers were disallowed from discriminating against staff members or potential hires over off-work cannabis usage. However, that provision was struck when the state’s cannabis law was modified last Might.

In Oregon, a 2017 costs that would safeguard staff members who use off-work recreational or medical marijuana from business drug policies was also overruled.

One major sticking point is that companies that have contracts with the federal government or receive grants from it are needed to follow the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

” I think that until cannabis is rescheduled or de-scheduled entirely, we won’t see a change in the Drug-Free Office Act,” said Megan Vaniman, a Portland, Oregon attorney who specialises in employment and marijuana.

In the costs presented in Massachusetts last month, a carve-out for business with such relationships with the federal government was consisted of in the text.

Another potential hangup for companies is that there is no guaranteed way to inform if someone is high on marijuana. Up until now, there is no equivalent of a breathalyser for marijuana. As traces of the drug can stay in the body for weeks, tests only show someone has actually used marijuana in current days or weeks and do not indicate if somebody is high. At most, an individual can be believed of having used marijuana due to the fact that their eyes are bloodshot, they smell like weed and their behaviour is consistent with being high.

Christopher Geehern, the vice-president of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a company organisation that represents 4,000 services in the state, says businesses are currently captured in a period of unpredictability surrounding marijuana’s legalisation.

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“The something that companies hate more than anything else is uncertainty– and this is a location where there’s a lot of unpredictability,” he stated.

Some companies represented by his group have taken it off the list of drugs they check for, he stated.

But “the majority of companies are preserving their current drug testing policies and I think are waiting for some type of assistance, either legislatively or technologically, where there’s a way to determine problems”, he included.

For Coughlin, the loss of her job has been ravaging. She said she liked her task and was proficient at it. Ever since, she has actually gotten more than 20 positions with no luck. She says she hopes the expense will assist protect others.

” I think the method I take a look at it, if you’re doing something on your own time in the privacy of your own house and it has definitely nothing to do with your job– and it’s legal in Massachusetts– there must be security there,” she said.

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