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The More You Know: Medical Marijuana

By Net Assets posted 06-25-2018 09:40 AM

  
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Risk Management |

Independent school attorneys lay out the basics on a growing list of issues that could challenge every school—if they aren’t already.

From the July/August 2018 Net Assets magazine

The following is an excerpt of the article "The More You Know," which covers nine additional topics (see box below). 

This information is provided for general educational purposes only. It should not be relied upon as, or in place of, legal advice. The authors and reader do not have an attorney/client relationship. Readers are encouraged to work with their legal counsel when addressing specific issues.

By Grace H. Lee, NBOA

Many schools are facing new questions and challenges regarding legalized marijuana. For example, does a school need to provide a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to an employee who was prescribed medical marijuana? While marijuana, or cannabis, is still an illegal substance under federal law, more and more states have legalized its use in some form, for medicinal and/or recreational use. However, many state laws do not fully address related workplace issues, leaving schools somewhat confused about how various state laws impact workplace policies, and what their obligation might be to accommodate legalized medical marijuana use under the ADA.

To further complicate matters, courts in different jurisdictions have ruled both ways when it comes to medical marijuana and the ADA. On the federal level, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that because marijuana is prohibited by federal law, medical marijuana users are excluded from protection under the ADA. Meanwhile, in 2017, a Massachusetts state court ruled that under state law, an employer must reasonably accommodate a medical marijuana user, save undue hardship. It is important to note, however, that courts have yet to rule that employers must allow an employee to use or be under the influence of medical marijuana while on the job.

Schools are advised to check their state law and consult legal counsel to understand how marijuana laws have been interpreted in their jurisdictions, especially when responding to a request for an accommodation under the ADA. In addition, to avoid any confusion, review school drug policies to ensure they clearly outline school rules prohibiting employees and students from using marijuana in any form, or being under the influence, while on campus, at a school-sponsored event or while on duty.

Grace H. Leebased in Washington, D.C., is NBOA’s vice president, legal affairs.

Download a PDF of this article.

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