Tuesday, November 08, 2005

SignOnSanDiego.com > Oregon court hears case on medical marijuana in the workplace

SALEM, Ore. – An attorney for Columbia Forest Products Inc. argued before the Oregon Supreme Court that voters who approved the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act never intended to force companies to let employees come to work with the drug in their systems.

But Philip Lebenbaum, an attorney representing a mill worker who was fired after failing several drug tests, told the justices Monday that his client's medical condition left him legally disabled, requiring his employer to make reasonable accommodations for him in the workplace under the Oregonians with Disabilities Law.

The case pits an employer's right to ensure a safe workplace against a worker's right in Oregon to use marijuana at home to treat pain. It started in 2001, when Robert Washburn was fired from the company's mill in Klamath Falls after several failed urine tests.

Washburn had a state-issued card allowing him to use marijuana to ease neck and muscle pain that disrupted his sleep. Washburn, who said he used the drug at home, sued the company, claiming it should have made an allowance for his disability.

A circuit court dismissed the lawsuit, citing a provision in the state medical marijuana law that employers don't have to "accommodate the medical use of marijuana in the workplace." (more)

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