Marijuana Compassionate Use Act Did Not Protect Employee From Termination

Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc., 132 Cal. App. 4th 590 (2005)

In accordance with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Proposition 215), Gary Ross had a physician’s recommendation to use marijuana for his chronic back pain. Ragingwire offered Ross a job as a lead systems administrator subject to his passing a drug test, which he failed when he tested positive for THC (the active chemical found in marijuana). Ragingwire terminated Ross’s employment because he failed the drug test. Ross sued Ragingwire for disability discrimination (on the theory that marijuana use is a reasonable accommodation for his back pain), wrongful termination in violation of public policy and breach of contract. The Court of Appeal affirmed dismissal on demurrer of Ross’s complaint, holding that an employer need not accommodate a disability by allowing an employee to use a drug that is illegal under federal if not state law. Similarly, the Court held there was good cause as a matter of law to terminate Ross’s employment.