Health Industry Newsletter Quotes James Shore on Best Practices for Medical Marijuana Policies

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Partner James Shore was quoted in the Environment of Care Leader newsletter in a feature titled “Federal law allows little wiggle room on medical marijuana policy.” The article discusses the impact of medical marijuana on employment policies for healthcare facilities.

Marijuana remains a prohibited Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). While employers in those states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana may make exceptions for the use of the drug, Shore advises against employers in the health care industry adopting similarly lenient policies, as they risk termination of their agreements with CMS for reimbursement through Medicare and Medicaid programs. “If [employers] make an exception for medical marijuana, they’re in jeopardy of violating their federal contract,” said Shore.

Employers must also consider the conflict created if medical marijuana policy is inconsistent with other policies in place for employees, especially in light of collective bargaining agreements in effect for many unionized health care employers. “[Inconsistent policy] can give rise to an issue that can carry weight with an arbitrator,” said Shore.

In lawsuits filed by employees who failed drug tests and were terminated, courts have ruled in favor of employers because state protections do not apply since the drug is still illegal under federal law. Shore defended one such case, Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Management, in the Washington Supreme Court, in which the court ruled 8-to-1 to uphold TeleTech’s decision to terminate the employment of an employee who failed a drug test. Background on the case may be found here.

“Federal law allows little wiggle room on medical marijuana policy” was published in the Environment of Care Leader newsletter, July 21, 2014. (Subscription required.)

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