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Jamal Campbell injured his back while working in 2016. The New Jersey man left no time at work and began treating the injury with medical cannabis in 2018.

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Sam Riches According to the lawsuit, Campbell claims he did not use cannabis at work, nor did he get high. / Photo by serggn / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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A New Jersey medical cannabis patient is suing his former employer after he was fired for recreational cannabis use.

Jamal Campbell was fired from his refining job in December 2020, reports NJ.com. Campbell filed a lawsuit against Watco Companies and Watco Transloading LLC in US District Court in April.

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Although cannabis was still illegal in New Jersey at the time, the lawsuit argues that it should have been protected under medical cannabis laws.

Campbell worked as an operator in the refinery for six years, with his duties mainly focused on loading freight trains. He injured his back while working in 2016, which resulted in a bulging disc. He didn’t miss any time from work and began treating the injury with medical cannabis in 2018.

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According to the lawsuit, Campbell claims he did not use cannabis at work, nor did he get high.

In December 2020, a Watco manager insisted Campbell take a drug test or lose his job. The worker replied that he would fail the test because of his medicinal cannabis use. When the test for cannabis came up positive, he was fired.

The lawsuit alleging Watco failed to seek reasonable accommodation for Campbell’s disability and medical cannabis use is in federal court because Watco is headquartered out of state in Kansas.

In 2019, another New Jersey resident sued Amazon in court after he was fired for using medical cannabis prescribed by doctors. Known only as the DJC, the plaintiff used cannabis to treat anxiety and panic disorders, but was fired when he failed a work-ordered drug test.

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According to the lawsuit, DJC claims he was prevented from finding employment with Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods as well as the company itself.

In April 2020, a federal court ruled the case could be tried in a state court, which may pave the way for a more employee-friendly solution, according to a blog post by Fatima V. Afia, an employee at Hiller, PC.

Earlier this year, a Florida high school teacher was also fired for using medicinal cannabis.

According to Paul Gibbs, the school board’s general counsel, the school district cannot hire teachers who use medicinal cannabis because of U.S. federal regulations that still classify cannabis as a Category I controlled substance.

Allowing teachers to use cannabis would prevent the school district from receiving some federal grants, Gibbs said.

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The teacher, Allison Enright, said she was unaware that she was violating the district’s guidelines, which state that teachers are not allowed to use illegal drugs but make no mention of medicinal cannabis. Cannabis was legalized in Florida in 2016.

Enright previously relied on opioids to treat multiple health conditions, and says she takes THC capsules twice a day under the guidance of a doctor.

“Let me be clear: I don’t do drugs,” Enright said during a school district meeting earlier this year. “I don’t smoke weed. I don’t get high. “

In Canada, patients with medicinal cannabis are still facing an uphill battle with most employers. Very few cover medical cannabis in employee benefit plans, which is “an unfair financial burden on sick Canadians,” wrote Hilary Black, chief advocacy officer at Canopy Growth, in a column for The GrowthOp last year.

“Medical cannabis enables many of these people to do things that many of us take for granted, like going for a walk, picking up our children, or even folding laundry,” Black wrote. “Why should they – some of the weakest among us – have to pay out of pocket to get access to the only treatment that works for them?”

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