Article: Fire Law: Marijuana in the Workplace – Coats v. Dish Network, LLC,

Article: Fire Law: Marijuana in the Workplace – Coats v. Dish Network, LLC,
CANNANNEW REPORT

Curt Varone warns departments that they face a new landscape when it comes to members who partake in grass. CURT VARONE (Header Picture) has more than 40 years of experience in the fire service, including 29 years as a career firefighter with Providence, RI, retiring as a deputy assistant chief (shift commander). He is a practicing attorney who is licensed in Maine and Rhode Island and served as the director of the Public Fire Protection Division at the NFPA. Varone is the author of two books, Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services and Fire Officer’s Legal Handbook, and remains active as a deputy chief in Exeter, RI. He writes The legalization of marijuana created a number of problems for the fire service and contributed greatly to an uptick in marijuana-related lawsuits that were filed by firefighters and applicants. It’s a multifaceted challenge that stands in stark contrast to the simple, straightforward approach to marijuana that existed for decades.   Times have changed Until recently, cannabis, including its primary intoxicating ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), was illegal under state and federal law. As a result, any positive test that indicated the presence of THC was grounds for discipline. Thus, when a member tested positive for THC, whether on a random, post-accident or reasonable-suspicion test, there was no need to worry about the level of impairment that the test showed. The fact that THC was present was enough to suspend or terminate a member. That straightforward approach did not change when states began to legalize medical marijuana or decriminalize marijuana possession. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) expressly excludes the use of illegal drugs from protection. Similarly, lifestyle discrimination laws that prohibit an employer from discriminating against an employee for legal activities while off duty were of no avail, because marijuana remained illegal under federal law. The…

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