Judge: fired medical cannabis patient can sue employer


Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

Employers can be sued for refusing to hire applicants who tested positive for medical cannabis, a Connecticut federal judge ruled last week.

In the case of Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co., Katelin Noffsinger claimed the company reversed its decision to hire her for a position at Bridge Brook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center because she informed them of her medical cannabis use.

Noffsinger suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and began taking THC capsules in 2015 to help her sleep. She alleged the action was discriminatory and violated Connecticut’s law allowing medical cannabis consumption. Bridge Brook argued the federal Controlled Substances Act preempts state law which permits medical cannabis.

US District Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer stated the Controlled Substances Act does not preempt state law if the patient is in legal compliance, which would maintain a cause of action against an employer who refuses to hire her for medical cannabis use.

Since the ruling was at a trial-court level, it does not establish precedent which would apply to other fired workers who sue employers.

Last month, a similar ruling in a case from Massachusetts determined a woman could also sue her employer because of termination related to her status as a medical cannabis patient.