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Reefer Madness: What Employers Need to Know About Medical Marijuana and Drug Testing Under Washington Law

July 2011
Employment Law Notes
In 1998, Washington voters approved the Medical Use of Marijuana Act (“MUMA”). MUMA provides a defense from criminal prosecution for physicians who prescribe medical marijuana and for patients who use prescribed medical marijuana. MUMA’s only reference to “employment” as the law was originally drafted, stated: “Nothing in this chapter requires any accommodation of any medical marijuana use in any place of employment . . . .” In 2007, the Washington legislature amended MUMA, clarifying that nothing in the law required “accommodation of any on-sitemedical use of marijuana in any place of employment . . . .” The legislature’s amendment opened the door to a claim that MUMA was intended to accommodate off-site use of medical marijuana that did not impact an employee’s job performance—or at least that was the argument heard recently by Washington’s Supreme Court.