New Jersey Judge Rules Employer Can Discriminate Against MMJ Use

A U.S. District Judge in New Jersey has ruled that an employer can indefinitely suspend an employee for his doctor-prescribed medical cannabis, The Daily Journal reports.

Ardagh Glass in Bridgeton, New Jersey did not allow medical cannabis patient Daniel Cotto Jr. to return to work after he refused a drug test. Cotto claims his employer knew about his use of medical cannabis, which was prescribed for chronic pain due to a severe neck and back injury in 2007. Cotto has provided a doctor’s note saying he is capable of operating machinery while medicated.

Cotto filed a lawsuit against Ardagh Glass which argued that, by not allowing him to return to work, the company had violated New Jersey‘s anti-discrimination laws and the Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA), which allows Cotto to be prescribed medical cannabis.

U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler’s decision found that the point of law allowing Ardagh Glass to deny Cotto his work hinged on mandatory drug testing. Under the language of CUMMA, Kugler wrote, an employer cannot be compelled to waive a drug testing requirement.

Other judges across the nation have delivered mixed rulings regarding medical cannabis for employees, including other decisions in New Jersey. In July, a Workers’ Compensation Judge ruled that Freehold Township, New Jersey had to pay for an injured worker’s medical cannabis treatment. That ruling ran counter to the decision in Cotto v. Ardagh Glass, and more contradictory rulings can be expected until federal legalization cleans the slate.

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Authored By

Patrick Beggan is a writer and photographer based in Bellingham, Washington. After serving as a US Army medic, he developed a passion for natural and herbal medicine that led him to the West coast. As a photographer, he strives to capture mood & narrative simultaneously to create images that speak volumes.

 

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