Medical Marijuana Use is Not Protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act

On May 21, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that theADAdoes not protect against discrimination on the basis of marijuana use, even if the use is supervised by a doctor in accordance with state law.

TheADA’s definition of an “individual with a disability” does not include an individual who is currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs, when the covered entity acts on the basis of such use.  For example, theADAdoes not protect an employee who is fired because they showed up at work high.  TheADArefers to federal law to define “illegal drug use,” and under federal law, marijuana is a controlled substance which is illegal.  So, even though various states and cities have passed laws that make marijuana use for medical purposes legal, unless and until federal law permits the use of marijuana, theADAwill not protect medical marijuana users who claim to face discrimination on the basis of their marijuana use.

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