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Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Patient Wins Discrimination Case

Rhode Island Marijuana Laws

Associate Justice Richard A. Licht ruled that Darlington Fabrics Corp. violated Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law when denying medical marijuana cardholder Christine Callaghan a paid internship in 2014. The Hawkins-Slater Medical Marijuana Act prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana cardholders.

ACLU volunteer attorney Carly Beauvais Iafrate represented Christine Callaghan, The Westerly Sun reports. Darlington Fabrics Corp. withdrew its offer for a paid internship when they were made known of Callaghan’s medical marijuana patient status. The company didn’t think she’d pass their drug test.

Callaghan told the company she wouldn’t work under the influence of medical marijuana or bring her medicine to work.

Attorney Iafrate said, “This decision sends a strong message that people with disabilities simply cannot be denied equal employment opportunities because of the medication they take. If employers were permitted to discriminate against those using medical marijuana, then the good work done by those to enact the law would be completely undone. The judge’s decision makes clear that this law is not an empty promise.”

Callaghan said, “I would like to thank the ACLU and Carly for representing me in this matter, as without their aid, I would have had no recourse. I am also thankful to Judge Licht for upholding my right to take medicine without fear of losing or being denied a job.”

Darlington Fabrics Corp argued that the medical marijuana act doesn’t give cardholders a right to sue. That argument was rejected by the judge. They also attempted to argue that they didn’t refuse employment for Callaghan’s inability to pass a drug test. The judge also shot down that argument.

Licht said, “It is absurd to think that the General Assembly wished to extend less protection to those suffering with debilitating conditions and who are the focus of the [act].”

The judge also said, “The recreational user could cease smoking long enough to pass the drug test and get hired…allowing him or her to smoke recreationally to his or her heart’s content. The medical user, however, would not be able to cease for long enough to pass the drug test, even though his or her use is necessary.”