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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / West Palm Beach Fires City IT Manager For Using Medical Marijuana

West Palm Beach Fires City IT Manager For Using Medical Marijuana


In the 2016 elections, Florida voters elected to begin a medical marijuana program in their state for those who suffer from certain serious medical conditions. However, many different aspects of using marijuana legally are still being ironed out by society. In late March, the city of West Palm Beach terminated a “top information technology manager” for smoking marijuana, despite the man informing his employer that he was legally permitted to use it. If you are in this situation, contacting an experienced attorney can help you know your options.

Fired For … Legal Conduct?

The City of West Palm Beach terminated Jason McCarty after he tested positive for marijuana during a urine test, despite his informing them in advance that he held a legal medical marijuana card, and was authorized to purchase marijuana from a dispensary and use it to combat severe anxiety. McCarty did not smoke at work, saying that he tested positive due to usage the night before, in his off hours. The city still insisted upon termination, citing the drug policy in force for employees.

The average person may understandably see this as unjust, given that medical marijuana usage was legalized due to the will of Florida voters, and Mr. McCarty did not use drugs during work hours. However, Florida law as of this writing is unsettled on the issue of when medical marijuana can be regulated. Getting definitive interpretation will likely require a court challenge, as for now the issue has been left to individual employers. What is legal may not always be acceptable by an employer, and unless it is discriminatory, an employer may terminate an employee for any reason.

Employers Have Options

In short, Florida employers can legally terminate you for using medical marijuana, despite it being legal to do so. Employers have quite a lot of power in Florida, given Florida’s at-will status – this means that unless an employee has a contract, they can be terminated at any time, for any non-discriminatory reason, and an employer may have quite valid reasons for not wanting its employees to use marijuana for any reason. For example, if the nature of the work is highly specific or detailed, the employer may fear mistakes being made.

Some employers may, instead of citing company policy, cite the Constitution, at least indirectly. Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution is referred to colloquially as the Supremacy Clause, and it holds that the Constitution and federal law will always take precedence over state laws or even state constitutions. Since marijuana usage of any kind is still prohibited under federal law, some employers simply say that they are obeying federal law rather than state law by outlawing the practice.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney

While you may not have much recourse if you are terminated by your employer, you can at least rest easy knowing that you will not face Florida charges for marijuana use or possession if your use is legal. If you have questions about Florida’s drug laws, contacting a West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. may be the first step toward getting them answered. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.



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