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Employer must face lawsuit after rescinding job offer over positive drug test

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A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that a woman who uses marijuana for medicinal purposes in compliance with Connecticut’s marijuana law can sue an employer who rescinded a job offer after a positive pre-employment drug test.

In Katelin Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company L.L.C., doing business as Bride Brook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a recreational therapist who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder was prescribed a capsule form of medicinal cannabis in 2015, which she ingests every evening to help her sleep, according to the ruling.

Bride Brook in Niantic, Connecticut hired Ms. Noffsinger in July 2016 and prior to her drug screen, she informed her future employer that she took medical marijuana as prescribed by her doctor. One day before she was to start her new job, after she had quit her former employment, the rehabilitation center rescinded her job offer over a positive drug test, according to the ruling.

Medical marijuana was made legal in Connecticut in 2012, making it among 29 states and Washington, D.C., to do so.

The defendant sought to dismiss Ms. Noffsinger’s lawsuit over federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act that categorizes marijuana as illegal. In the United States District Court of Connecticut ruling, Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer wrote: “This lawsuit calls upon me to decide if federal law preempts Connecticut law. In particular, I must decide if federal law precludes enforcement of a Connecticut law that prohibits employers from firing or refusing to hire someone who uses marijuana for medicinal purposes. I conclude that the answer to that question is ‘no’ and that a plaintiff who uses marijuana for medicinal purposes in compliance with Connecticut law may maintain a cause of action against an employer who refuses to employ her for this reason.”

Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court last month reached the same conclusion in a similar case.