New Hampshire court rules in favor of plaintiff who requested workplace drug test exemption


A recent court case saw a New Hampshire judge rule in favor of a plaintiff who was dismissed for using medicinal-grade cannabis. 

New Hampshire’s legal medical cannabis market has been active since the year 2013, when former Governor Maggie Hassan signed HB 573 into law.

Specifically, the plaintiff, who was employed by Ride-Away, was prescribed medical cannabis for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The worker sought a drug test exemption for off-duty medical cannabis consumption, but his request was rejected and, ultimately, he was fired.

The subject of cannabis consumption in the American workplace has stirred up debate since 1996, when California became the first U.S. state to legalize the plant for medical purposes. 

Fast forward to 2022 and a vast proportion of the nation’s map now features cannabis-friendly states, which means that the complexities surrounding workplace cannabis use are heating up.

Employer failed to accommodate plaintiff’s medical cannabis use for disability

Although he was in possession of a medical cannabis prescription from a certified doctor, the Ride-Away employee was instructed to leave his job. 

The plaintiff proceeded to sue the company, after which Ride-Away responded by saying that it was not obligated to accommodate the worker’s preferred treatment.

The defendants based their decision on the fact that cannabis is still federally illegal and is therefore considered to be a controlled substance. For this reason, among many others, workplace consumption remains risky.

Notwithstanding the remarks about federal prohibition, the court voted in favor of the plaintiff. 

Specifically, the court stated that while illegal drug consumption is not deemed to be a protected disability, the law does not explicitly forbid the treatment of medical conditions using cannabis.

About the ruling for employee cannabis consumption in New Hampshire

The court’s decision to side with the former Ride-Away employee in New Hampshire represents progress in terms of breaking down barriers for medicinal cannabis use in the workplace.

While the ruling does not stipulate that employees can consume smokable cannabis during working hours, it does back cannabis’ reputation as a medicinal aid for various ailments and conditions; in the plaintiff’s case, it was PTSD.

Cannabis appears to be a promising aid for PTSD patients, with the plant’s anxiolytic properties lending to its credibility as a potential treatment option for the mental disorder.

Although the legal case represents a major stepping stone in terms of employee cannabis consumption in New Hampshire, the outcome does not clarify whether or not employers should allow employees to use the substance outside of working hours.