Off-job pot use up for debate

January 05, 2008

Associated Press, Seattle Times (WA)

SALEM, Ore. — A construction-industry group wants companies to have the legal right to bar users of medical marijuana from working in potentially hazardous jobs such as operating heavy machinery.

It is an issue that state lawmakers will likely take up during a monthlong session that begins Feb. 4, and one that will produce vigorous debate over whether people's right to legally use medical marijuana can be trumped by issues such as workplace safety.

Under Oregon's 1998 medical-marijuana law, employers don't have to let patients with medical-marijuana cards smoke it in the workplace.

But the law left it unclear whether employers must accommodate workers who smoke medical marijuana off the job.

Negotiations are being conducted at the State Capitol over a bill sought by Associated General Contractors specifying that medical-marijuana users who work in dangerous or "safety-sensitive" jobs could be fired or disciplined if they test positive.

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