The Employment Law Implications of the Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

On November 8, 2016, voters in several states passed medical or recreational marijuana measures each of which will likely impact employers. As this area of law is developing quickly, and since the Trump administration’s position on marijuana is unclear, employers may want to consider the impact of these new laws as well as watch for new developments.

Marijuana Measures on the Ballot in Nine States

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, nine states will have marijuana-related measures on their ballots—five states will consider whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use and four states will vote on whether to allow medical marijuana. Given these impending state law changes, the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has become a pressing issue on employers’ minds.

Consistent Enforcement of Drug Policies Key to Avoiding Disparate Treatment Claims

Following termination stemming from a positive drug test for marijuana, a Native American female, appearing pro se, filed a federal lawsuit against her former employer, Mohave County’s Public Works Department. She alleged discrimination based on race and/or ancestry, a violation of her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and a violation of due process rights. On July 19, 2016, Senior U.S. District Judge for the District of Arizona, James A. Teilborg, issued an order granting summary judgment for the defendant Mohave County on all claims.