California State Supreme Court to Hear Landmark Medical Marijuana Employment Discrimination Case on Tuesday

Press Release November 4, 2007

On Tuesday, November 6, 2007, the California Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc., a case in which a lawful medical marijuana patient was fired by his employer after testing positive for medical marijuana he used during off-hours in accordance with his doctor’s recommendation for the treatment of severe pain.

The case concerns Gary Ross, who treats his chronic pain and muscle spasms from a military injury with physician-recommended medical marijuana in compliance with California law. Mr. Ross provided the company with documentation of his legal status as a medical marijuana patient but was fired after eight days on the job because he tested positive for THC in a pre-employment drug test. Mr. Ross filed suit alleging wrongful termination but two lower courts sided with the employer, holding that the company did not discriminate against Mr. Ross based on his disability and chosen treatment.

“The livelihoods of thousands of working Californians who are using medical marijuana in full compliance with state law are at stake in this case,” said Tamar Todd, staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance.

Mr. Ross is represented by Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access, who will be arguing that case in front of the California Supreme Court on Tuesday. The Drug Policy Alliance filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in support of Mr. Ross on behalf of leading national and state public health organizations, including the American Pain Foundation, the American Medical Women’s Association, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the American Nurses Association, the California Nurses’ Association, the AIDS Action Council, the National Women’s Health Network, Doctors of the World — USA and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

The brief argues that patients should not be forced to choose between the best course of treatment or employment, and outlines the sound evidence that marijuana is medically appropriate treatment for chronic pain and other serious medical conditions. Signatories to the brief represent a powerful contingent of medical and public health organizations that represent a broad class of patient-employees.

“These leading health organizations recognize the need for patients to be able to follow their doctors’ advice for pain relief and treatment without fear of being fired from their jobs for doing so,” said Todd.

Oral argument is scheduled for November 6, 2007 at 9 a.m., in the California Supreme Court’s Capitol courtroom, Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building, 914 Capitol Mall, Sacramento.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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