Why smoking weed can get you fired in Massachusetts– despite the fact that it'' s legal

February 1, 2019 by erfa5t8

After a long day at work, Bernadette Coughlin would frequently get back, take a couple of hits of cannabis from a vape pen, play Sweet Crush on her phone and go to bed.

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

> Massachusetts and she would never ever consider going to work high. But then last May, the then 55-year-old stumbled and fell at the Holy Household healthcare facility in Methuen where she worked as a patient services manager in the center’s kitchen for Sodexo, a multi-national food services business.

It ended up that she had broken her wrist and her elbow. When she informed her employer she had fallen in the work environment, she was sent for a drug test. And when that drug test revealed that she had marijuana in her system, she received a call from Sodexo’s human resources department and was fired.

” All of my employees were in shock. I wasn’t allowed to talk to any of them. It was like suddenly I was this horrible bad guy,” she stated. Going into the drug test, “it truly didn’t enter my mind that it would have anything to do with marijuana due to the fact that I knew it was legal at that time. So I really wasn’t that concerned.”

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Using recreational cannabis is now legal in 10 states along with 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 of it like alcohol, another mood-altering compound that is controlled by state governments and as soon as dealt with a federal restriction. But there is one huge distinction: you can’t get fired from your task if your manager learns you enjoy a number of glasses of white wine on your couch at the end of the day.

While state mindsets on marijuana have moved drastically as legalisation became progressively typical in the last few years, there are still no protections in location for employees who utilize the drug recreationally in legal states. While you can’t be arrested for smoking cigarettes weed in states such as Massachusetts, Colorado or Oregon, there is nothing restricting companies from carrying out drug tests on employees or potential hires– and after that shooting them or not hiring them if they have marijuana in their system.

All of my employees were in shock … It resembled suddenly I was this terrible criminal

Bernadette Coughlin

Last month, Massachusetts state senator Jason Lewis introduced an expense that would restrict employers from victimizing employees who use the drug. If passed, Massachusetts would be the first legal state in the country to offer such protections.

Supplied that a staff member is not impaired by cannabis at work and uses it just far from the workplace during off-work hours, the costs states: “A company might not discriminate against a person in hiring, termination or enforcing any term or condition of work or otherwise punish an individual based upon a person’s use of marijuana.”

In July 2017, the state’s top court, the Massachusetts supreme judicial court, ruled in favour of an employee who had actually been fired for using prescribed medical cannabis to help treat low hunger triggered by Crohn’s disease.

But extending protections to employees who use marijuana without a prescription can be tough and such efforts have actually stopped working elsewhere in the country.

Nearby Maine, where marijuana is likewise legal, initially included an arrangement in its marijuana law where companies were barred from victimizing employees or potential hires over off-work cannabis use. However, that provision was struck when the state’s marijuana law was modified last Might.

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

One significant 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 believe that up until marijuana is rescheduled or de-scheduled completely, we won’t see a modification in the Drug-Free Workplace Act,” said Megan Vaniman, a Portland, Oregon lawyer who specialises in work and marijuana.

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

Another prospective hangup for companies is that there is no proven way to inform if someone is high on cannabis. 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 recent days or weeks and do not indicate if someone is high. At the majority of, an individual can be presumed of having utilized cannabis due to the fact that their eyes are bloodshot, they smell like weed and their behaviour follows being high.

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

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

Some companies represented by his group have actually taken it off the list of drugs they test for, he said.

However “most of employers are maintaining their present drug testing policies and I believe are waiting on some sort of assistance, either legislatively or highly, where there’s a method to determine impairment”, he included.

For Coughlin, the loss of her job has actually been devastating. She said she liked her task and was proficient at it. Since then, she has actually looked for more than 20 positions with no luck. She says she hopes the costs will help protect others.

” I think the way I look at it, if you’re doing something by yourself time in the privacy of your own home and it has absolutely nothing to do with your job– and it’s legal in Massachusetts– there need to be defense there,” she stated.

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