Company policy may override medical marijuana law

Many states have now legalized or decriminalized marijuana possession, and even more have legalized marijuana use for medical purposes. But while these laws may allow employees to avoid criminal consequences for smoking pot, they might not allow them to avoid workplace consequences.

Take the case of a Wal-Mart employee in Michigan. His doctors prescribed marijuana to control pain related to cancer, and he was a registered user under Michigan’s medical marijuana law. But when he tested positive for the substance under Wal-Mart’s drug use policy, the company fired him.

The employee sued Wal-Mart, but a federal appeals court upheld the firing.

The court pointed out that Michigan’s medical marijuana law didn’t address employment issues. It said that a company could still adopt rules for marijuana use, just as it could adopt rules for other employee conduct at work even though that conduct might otherwise be legal outside the workplace context.