What are the judges smoking?

On Wednesday the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling that ensures a hazy future for many safety-conscience Oregon employers. In fact, I am left asking myself, “what are those judges smoking?”

In an opinion written by Judge Timothy Sercombe, the Court of Appeals ruled that employers with bona fide safety concerns and who have strong drug-free workplace policies are unable to apply those policies to medical marijuana card holders who smoke pot off the job.

Here is a blurb from the Associated Press:

“The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that an employer must make a reasonable accommodation for medical marijuana use for a disability”¦”

“Employers do not have to let patients smoke marijuana in the workplace. But the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act approved by voters in 1998 was unclear about whether employers must accommodate workers who smoke medical marijuana off the job.”

Think about this for a moment.

If you are a sawmill, trucking company, or construction contractor can you afford the risk of having someone — possibly high or recently high on drugs — putting your employees, customer and the public at risk?

The case will surely move to the Oregon Supreme Court, but what do you think? Should Oregon employers be able to maintain a drug-free work place?


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Posted by at 07:02 | Posted in Measure 37 | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    Of course they should. They will just have to come up with some other reason to fire these drug users or hopefully not hire them in the first place.
    What a joke.
    Legislation from the bench.
    Pro drug.
    Oregon – we love dreamers!

    Now, the first person to respond to this who says the druggies should be safe on the job – just answer me one simple question, OK?

    You are on the operating table for a heart by-pass. Your surgeon is a protected medical dope smoker. He just toked up to ease his pain. Do you want him to perform the operation? If you can honestly say yes, then you are either a fool or you really believe in this garbage, in which case I would say cut away surgeon!

  • Rupert in Springfield

    You know, if you accept the premise of marijuana for medical uses, I’m not sure exactly how smoking it off the job is any different than any other drug one might take for a medical purpose off the job.

    Many people take allergy medication. That medication can cause severe drowsiness etc. I myself am profoundly affected by this. If I am impaired by allergy medication is that really a lot different than being impaired by marijuana?

    Many people drink. If someone is severely hung over from the night before, they are impaired. Is that any different from someone being impaired from being hung over from marijuana?

    The answer to these questions is no, there is not a lot of difference. The answer is if someone is impaired, it doesn’t matter what the cause, they should not be on the job. The problem is, detecting and proving someone is impaired can be very difficult. The costs for disciplining someone for impairment, when that impairment cannot be proven can be incredibly high. This is especially so in a union environment where often the greatest risk of physical injury is present. Lawyers abound who are ready to sue the employer and win awards far out of proportion to the loss of a days pay that person may have suffered.

    The issue has less to do with the particular drug at hand, and more to do with the legal ramifications of the workplace cure.

  • Bob

    By that logic, we ought to require employers to terminate anyone on chemotherapy, antihistamines, or certain painkillers, all of which can interfere with job performance. Since marijuana is a legally prescribed medication, it should be treated the same. If the medication interferes with job performance, you must take medical leave. If it doesn’t, it’s none of your employer’s business!

  • dean

    Oh my Gawd! I agree with Rupert 90%. And Bob.

    The only caveat is the “union environment” part. In this day and age most union members are service workers or otherwise white collar, so the risk of physical injury is not necessarily greater than for non-union workers.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      >In this day and age most union members are service workers or otherwise white collar

      Unfortunatly quite true. Thank you spend thrift government!

      >so the risk of physical injury is not necessarily greater than for non-union workers.

      I wasn’t really saying this, although I can understand the confusion. I was speaking more to heavy industry or construction work which is often unionized and where the greatest risk is present. In a union environment, the legal risks would be greater for the employer in this situation than in a non union environment. While in theory worker disputes in union situations are supposed to be handled solely by the union and the employer, this often isn’t the case. Should union action against the employer fail, the worker can often pursue individual action on their own. This was all I was speaking to, the additional layer of risk the employer is exposed to in what are the most hazardous work environments.

  • devietro

    I am not a pot lover but you guys are missing some big points.

    1. Those who use medical marijuana for legit purposes rarely work and certainly not in physical industries.

    2. Those who use medical pot are no more dangerous than people prescribed Vikodin or other narcotics

    3. Medical pot users do not seek to get high and many actually take steps to avoid it.

    4. Oregon has huge issues controlling who gets medical pot cards which is the real issue.

  • pk2

    If pot helps workers work better and healthier, why would any employer knock it?

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