Vermont: Medical Marijuana Not Protected Under ADA


Employers with 15+ Employees in VT


February 14, 2024


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Quick Look

  • The ADA does not protect medical marijuana usage.
  • Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana has “no currently accepted medical use” and therefore does not fall under the supervised use exception of the ADA.


In Skoric v. Marble Valley Regional Transit District, a federal district court dismissed a plaintiff’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) discrimination and failure to accommodate claim, concluding that medical marijuana usage is not protected under the ADA.

In this case, the plaintiff was terminated from his employment with the Transit District after he failed a random drug test. Following his termination, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against the company alleging claims for ADA discrimination and failure to accommodate and stating the reason he failed his drug test was based on his usage of medical marijuana to treat chronic pain and depression. The plaintiff argued that, because he has a medical marijuana card, he was using marijuana under the supervision of a doctor and was therefore protected under the ADA. The plaintiff cited the ADA’s provision that allows for the use of illegal drugs “taken under supervision by a licensed health care professional.”

The Court disagreed with the plaintiff’s argument, relying on other district court opinions, as well as a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which concluded that medical marijuana use does not fall within the supervised-use exception of the ADA, and therefore is outside the protections of the ADA. In light of these other opinions, the court concluded that because marijuana has “no currently accepted medical use” under the Controlled Substances Act, a medical marijuana patient is not a “‘qualified individual with a disability’” under the supervised-use exception of the ADA.

While it was not addressed in this case, employers should keep in mind that Vermont state law generally prohibits random drug testing (with certain exceptions arising from preemption by the Federal Highway Administration’s motor carrier safety regulations). Vermont’s drug testing law also generally requires that employers offer an employee assistance program or comparable rehabilitation program prior to termination of employment due to drug related offenses. Because this case was decided at a federal court level based on marijuana’s status as a federally illegal substance, employers should keep in mind that the outcome may be different when analyzed under different state laws.

Action Items

  1. Review state-specific drug testing requirements.
  2. Have appropriate personnel trained on drug testing requirements.
  3. Consult with legal counsel prior to taking adverse action against employees for drug-related offenses.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2024 ManagEase