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Amazon Reinstates Eligibility for Those Who Failed Drug Screen for Marijuana


In a reversal of a previous policy, Amazon, which is the second-largest employer in the United States, announced this week it will allow people who failed the company’s drug screen for marijuana to re-apply for jobs with the company.

In addition to reopening the door for jobs to those who tested positive for marijuana, the company is no longer including marijuana tests in its pre-employment screenings except for federally regulated positions. Amazon also reaffirmed its support for proposed federal legislation to repeal marijuana prohibition.

Following the announcement, marijuana lobbying group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) noted that the decision was welcome as a sign that other employers might also allow those who have used marijuana recreationally to re-apply for their jobs.  More than 50 percent of United States citizens now live in areas where marijuana is legal, but many employers terminate employees for drug screens that show marijuana use.

NORML’s political director said that he hoped the Amazon decision would push other employers to make the same move.

Amazon explained its decision was due to national statistics showing that pre-employment marijuana testing impacted people of color disproportionately and that it recognized a shift in the country’s approach to the substance. Many states, municipalities, and cities now limit an employer’s ability to screen applicants for past marijuana use.

In 2015, the Delaware House Bill 39 (HB 39) decriminalized cannabis possession to some degree. In both 2018 and 2019, Gov. John Carney signed bills that would allow certain marijuana convictions to be expunged.

Those who have been terminated or unable to get hired due to a positive marijuana screening test should speak with the experienced Wilmington employment lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A.  Located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, the firm serves clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County. Call  (302) 600-1935 or complete an online form to schedule a free consultation today. 

Medical Marijuana and Employment Discrimination Law

Wilmington employment discrimination lawyers advocate for the rights of workers who use medical marijuana.Under the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act, employers may not discriminate against state-licensed medical marijuana patients regarding hiring, terminating, or other conditions of employment. However, instances of workplace discrimination against this class of employees are increasing as medical marijuana use expands.

Delaware Online recently quoted Patrick C. Gallagher of Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A., regarding the rise of litigation involving employment discrimination and Delaware medical marijuana patients. (Delaware Online is part of the USA Today network.)

“It is a very new area of the law, and we are just starting to see how the courts are dealing with it,” said Gallagher. “I think that class of people who are going to have access to medical marijuana is going to expand and the possibility for discrimination is also going to expand.” At least three Delaware residents have filed lawsuits claiming employers have discriminated against them for using medical marijuana.

Medical Conditions Covered Under the Law

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services issues identification cards to qualified medical marijuana patients. A qualifying patient is someone diagnosed by a licensed physician as having a debilitating condition that does not respond to conventional treatment. Debilitating conditions may include the following:

  • Cancer
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Decompensated cirrhosis
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic debilitating migraines

Delaware legislators are considering further expansion of the Medical Marijuana Act to include more medical conditions, such as chronic anxiety.

Examples of Workplace Discrimination in Delaware

In the lawsuits filed to date, employers are firing or otherwise discriminating against medical marijuana patients after the workers have been offered a job or have been employed.

In one case cited in Delaware Online, a veteran suffering from PTSD turned to medical marijuana after unsuccessfully trying many other prescribed medications to treat chronic sleep problems. The veteran was hired by various employers after disclosing his state-licensed medical marijuana patient ID but was subsequently fired after employer-mandated drug tests detected levels of marijuana. In another case, a card-carrying medical marijuana patient was denied a permanent position by her employer due to her marijuana use.

Reasons Why Employers Discriminate

There are likely several reasons for this type of discrimination. Employers are generally uncomfortable with seeing positive drug test results. They may fear that the employee will show up to work under the influence of, or use drugs while at work, although that would void the protections which the employee enjoys under the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act.

Employers may also be concerned about federal law, which still classifies marijuana as an illegal drug with no medical benefit. However, the Delaware Superior Court has ruled that federal law does not pre-empt Delaware’s Medical Marijuana Act in matters of discrimination in the workplace.

Medical Marijuana Law is Evolving in Delaware

Although Delaware initially passed the Medical Marijuana Act in 2011, the first dispensary in the state did not open until 2015. There are currently more than 7,000 medical marijuana patients in Delaware holding valid state-licensed IDs. As the law expands to cover more medical conditions, the number is expected to grow as well as the percentage of cardholders seeking employment.

Workers taking legal prescriptions for opiates do not face employment discrimination in the same way that medical marijuana patients do. That may change as more worker discrimination cases make their way into the courts.

Wilmington Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Advocate for the Rights of Workers Who Use Medical Marijuana

If you are a state-licensed medical marijuana patient who has experienced workplace discrimination, call the Wilmington employment discrimination lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. We stand ready to fight for your rights, which are guaranteed under the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act. Call us today at 302-656-5445 or contact us online to arrange an initial consultation. From our offices in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state, including the areas of Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.