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Workplace discrimination against medical marijuana users

New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy made legalization of marijuana a core component of his platform during his election campaign, and he is already taking steps to expand residents' access to the drug through legitimate medical dispensaries. However, the process of legalization is often lengthy and complicated, and it may be quite some time before the drug is no longer a threat to the livelihoods of users, even those who do qualify for a medical marijuana exception.

This can be especially difficult for employees who work for companies that maintain strict anti-drug policies in the face of shifting attitudes about the drug. In contrast to the relationship of employers to their employees other behavior, medical marijuana users often suffer from unfairly harsh overreaches by employers.

In great part, this is due to the length of time that traces of marijuana use remain present in an employee's blood, compared to other substances like alcohol or even more serious drugs like cocaine. Whereas alcohol or cocaine may entirely bypass a drug test or may cycle out of the body in a matter of days, marijuana may remain present in the body for more than a month in some cases, long after the effects of the drug wear off.

This may lead to discriminatory treatment or firing, even for employees who are using the drug within the confines of the law. New Jersey does not currently have laws that protect employees from this kind of discrimination, and those who do experience it may face great difficulty defending their rights. If you face such discrimination in your workplace, be sure to consider all the legal tools you have available to protect your rights and interests.

Source:, "Workplace discrimination against California medical cannabis patients may end," David Down, accessed March 16, 2018

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