PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – More than 600,000 Pennsylvanians are medical marijuana cardholders for a variety of conditions and illnesses.
But even though state law makes it legal, some patients say they are being discriminated against and being denied employment.
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Since she was a teenager, Jen McQuade has suffered from ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. But she says that all changed when she started using vaporizers and concentrated cannabis extracts.
“Six weeks after taking medical marijuana, I went from medically worse to a normal life, which is remarkable,” she said.
But beyond $65 a month for the drug, the relief has come with another cost. Recently, the single mother of one said she was offered a $75,000-a-year job as a risk manager for Brayman Construction Company in Saxonburg, but the company has since turned away. declined the offer the next day when she showed them her medical marijuana card.
“I was devastated,” McQuade said. “I can’t believe someone wouldn’t look at me like that because I took my medicine and I went to the pharmacy.”
Her lawyer, Steven Auerbach, said: “These people are being forced to choose between medicine and their work. It is a serious injustice.”
McQuaid has now filed a lawsuit against Brayman for job discrimination. Her attorney said she is one of hundreds – perhaps thousands – of Pennsylvanians who have been denied employment because of the legal use of medical marijuana.
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State law seems clear: “No employer may fire, threaten, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate against… an individual certified to use medical marijuana.”
But businesses say it’s not so simple.
Employer attorney Jean Novak said state law has many exceptions. For example, employers can legally deny employment to medical marijuana users applying for jobs in high-altitude locations such as high-voltage electrical workers or confined spaces such as miners. And because marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, Novak said federal agencies can justifiably deny employment.
On top of that, employers say they have full rights.
“I am doing what I am allowed to do – which is keeping the public safe and keeping my other employees safe,” Novak said.
McQuade said she doesn’t take drugs and only takes it at night for pain relief and sleep. She added that she was perfectly alert to do her desk work in the morning.
Novak said the law needs to be clarified to protect everyone involved.
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“It will be helpful for employers, it will be helpful for patients and helpful for attorneys on both sides of the question,” she said.
https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/02/24/medical-marijuana-patients-pennsylvania-denied-jobs/ Medical marijuana patients say they are being discriminated against and denied employment – CBS Pittsburgh