Federal Law Does Not Supersede Employee Protections of State Marijuana Laws. First Such Ruling from a Federal Court

September 15, 2017

Dozens of states around the country have introduced and implemented laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.  This is in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA)(21 USC §812), which still holds that the possession of marijuana is a crime.  

These relatively new state laws have been largely uninterpreted by either state or federal courts, but the few cases that have been decided in the last few years have been largely state courts. Interestingly, a recent federal district court case has added some nuanced elements to the critical question of how these marijuana laws can coexist with the CSA that still treat marijuana use not only as an impermissible medical procedure but as a crime. 

In Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company LLC, 2017 WL 3401260 (2017), an employee was taking capsules of synthetic marijuana, (Marinol) recommended to her by a doctor, to treat PTSD.  She tested positive for marijuana during a pre-employment drug test, informed the employer that she was taking the capsules for medical purposes, and the job offer was rescinded anyway. The employee then sued the employer. 

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