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Employers Struggle with State Marijuana Laws | Danielle Braff

​Michelle Ustaszeski-Hutchinson was ready to start a job as a resident care assistant at a personalized senior care community in Richland, Pa., when the opportunity went up in smoke.

During her pre-employment screening, which included a drug test, she presented the employer with her state medical marijuana card and sent a copy of it to the company’s medical review officer, explaining that she uses marijuana to treat her post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders. (Pennsylvania has a comprehensive medical marijuana program.) 

Two weeks later, she received an e-mail explaining that her conditional offer of employment had been rescinded.

After Ustaszeski-Hutchinson sued the company seeking lost pay and benefits, lost future pay and compensatory damages, she settled for an undisclosed amount, according to Law360.

Nearly half of Americans live in states where marijuana use is legal, and companies are struggling to understand what they’re allowed to accept within the confines of the workplace.

Can an employer ban the drug, even if someone is using marijuana for medical purposes as prescribed by a doctor, such as to ease the pain of a migraine or the side effects of chemotherapy? Can employees take a puff whenever they want to? Should employers be barred from asking workers to undergo drug testing?

Answers to these questions, along with seemingly everything else ­cannabis-related, can be murky. 

But some facts are crystal clear: Marijuana is still a federally banned…

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