Employment Law Updates

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for qualified employees with disabilities. Although recovering drug addicts do have some protections under the ADA, it does not protect illegal drug use. Marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law, with no exceptions for medicinal use, so its use is not protected under the Act.  Federal courts have generally ruled that the ADA does not require a medical marijuana accommodation.

Some state laws, however, do provide protection for the use of medical marijuana by workers.  For example, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware and Minnesota have passed laws that prohibit an employer from firing or disciplining registered medical marijuana patients for testing positive for the drug at work. In addition, in 2017, state courts in Massachusetts and Rhode Island ruled that the disability laws of those states give medical marijuana patients the right to a reasonable accommodation.

Virginia does not yet have a statute which requires accommodation in the workplace for medical marijuana use.  Employers may voluntarily make that accommodation, but it is not required in Virginia by either state or federal law.

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