N.J. medical marijuana patient fired for using cannabis in his free time, lawsuit claims

N.J. medical marijuana patient fired for using cannabis in his free time, lawsuit claims

By Amanda Hoover

A medical marijuana patient is suing his former employer, claiming the company terminated his refinery job after he used prescribed cannabis while off the clock.

The claim comes as New Jersey employers are changing their drug testing policies to keep pace with the new legal weed laws. But the patient’s lawsuit argues that the medical cannabis law should have protected him even without legalization.

Jamal Campbell filed suit against Watco Companies and Watco Transloading LLC in U.S. District Court this April for violating the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act and the state Law Against Discrimination. He worked as an operator at the company’s Linden refinery from 2014 until December 2020, mostly loading cargo trains.

He hurt his back on the job in 2016, according to the lawsuit. He didn’t miss work, but sought pain relief for a bulging disc. He became a medical marijuana patient in 2018.

Campbell’s lawsuit says he never used marijuana at work or came to the job high.

In December of 2020, a Watco manager told Campbell he would have to take a random drug test, according to the claim. Campbell said he would fail due to his medical marijuana usage, but the manager said he had to comply or risk losing his job.

When he tested positive for marijuana, Watco fired him, the suit alleges.

A spokeswoman for Watco declined to comment on the lawsuit.

New Jersey’s top court ruled last year that employers cannot fire medical cannabis patients for marijuana use as long as they do not use the drug at work. The decision said the Law Against Discrimination protected the workers.

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