July 22, 2018

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No Duty to Accommodate Medical Marijuana Use in New Mexico

The United States District Court for the District of New Mexico recently dismissed a lawsuit filed by an employee who was fired after testing positive for marijuana despite using medical marijuana as permitted by New Mexico state law.  In finding that the employer did not violate New Mexico law or public policy, the court’s decision mirrors the holdings in similar cases from California, Colorado, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Washington holding that employers have no duty to accommodate medical marijuana use by employees.

In the New Mexico case, the employee applied for a position with Tractor Supply Company and disclosed his HIV/AIDS diagnosis during the interview process.  The employee further disclosed that he participated in the New Mexico Cannabis Program, authorized by the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.  After the employee was hired for the position, the employee underwent a drug test and tested positive for cannabis metabolites.  Tractor Supply Company terminated the employee on the basis of the positive drug test.

Employers—including those in health care—who wish to continue their zero tolerance policy for marijuana use likely are legally insulated in states with statutes that do not expressly require accommodation of medical marijuana use.  However, whether such policies are permissible in states such as Nevada and New York, which have state laws expressly requiring the accommodation of medical marijuana use, is less clear.  Thus, employers should continue to monitor for developments in this area of the law.

The New Mexico case is Garcia v. Tractor Supply Company (PDF), No. 15-CV-00735 (D.N.M. Jan. 7, 2016).

©2018 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.

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About this Author

Nathaniel M. Glasser, Epstein Becker, Labor, Employment Attorney, Publishing
Member

NATHANIEL M. GLASSER is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the Washington, DC, office of Epstein Becker Green. His practice focuses on the representation of leading companies and firms, including publishing and media companies, financial services institutions, and law firms, in all areas of labor and employment relations.

Mr. Glasser’s experience includes:

  • Defending clients in employment litigation, from single-plaintiff to class action disputes,...

202-861-1863
Jonathan K. Hoerner, Epstein Becker law firm Life Sciences Attorney Washington D.C.,
Associate

JONATHAN K. HOERNER is an Associate in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, in the Washington, DC, office of Epstein Becker Green.

Mr. Hoerner:

  • Defends health care and life sciences companies in litigation as well as in connection with federal and state government investigations, qui tam actions, and internal investigations related to health care fraud
  • Advises clients regarding fraud and abuse issues arising under anti-kickback laws, the Stark Law, and the False Claims Act
  • Assists clients in evaluating, developing, and implementing health care corporate compliance programs and compliance training programs
  • Advises a variety of health care providers—including hospitals, physician groups, nursing homes, ambulance providers, and various other health care facilities and businesses—in transactional and regulatory compliance matters arising under Medicare, Medicaid, and other third-party reimbursement programs
  • Advises Medicare Part C and Exchange plans on matters concerning risk adjustment payment including retraction and self-disclosures to CMS, enforcement counseling, and defense

At Saint Louis University School of Law, Mr. Hoerner completed concentrations in Health Law and Civil Litigation and achieved Academic Excellence Awards in Healthcare Fraud and Abuse, Healthcare Finance and Business Planning, Electronic Discovery, Legal Profession/Ethics, and Civil Litigation Practice. He also served as the Lead Editor of the Saint Louis University Law Journal.

Mr. Hoerner served as a Legal Extern at one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health care systems and as a Judicial Extern for the Honorable David D. Noce of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

202-861-1826