Computer technician Gary Ross of California was fired for smoking pot at his doctor’s recommendation to alleviate back pain. Today the California Supreme Court hears his charge that his employer discriminated against him and violated the state’s fair-employment law by punishing him for legally smoking marijuana at home, the Associated Press reports. Ross argues that those who use mediical marijuana should receive the same workplace protection from discipline that employees with valid painkiller prescriptions do. California legalized medicinal marijuana in 1996.
Eleven other states, including Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state, have similar laws and many are now grappling with the same sticky, workplace issues over drug use by employees smoking medicinal marijuana approved by doctors. The nonprofit marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, which is representing Ross, estimates that 300,000 Americans use medical marijuana. “It’s an extremely widespread problem,” said Joe Elford, the group’s chief lawyer. Several national medical organizations and disability rights advocates have filed friend-of-the-court briefs urging the court to rule in Ross’ favor.