Firing of Orlando-area medical cannabis patient highlights the need for broader reform
  • Mar 26, 2021

Firing of Orlando-area medical cannabis patient highlights the need for broader reform

This story out of Brevard County highlights one of the many injustices of cannabis prohibition.  A woman who uses medical cannabis legally under state law was fired from her job as a teacher because cannabis is still considered an "illegal drug." 

The Associated Press reports:

The school district adopted a policy in 2019 allowing students to use medical marijuana, but the policy didn’t address teachers. Enright disclosed her medical marijuana use when she took a drug test after an injury at work.

She said she didn’t realize that her medication violated the district’s policy, which says teachers can’t use “illegal drugs” without specifically mentioning marijuana prescribed by a doctor. ...

Enright said she takes a pill containing THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, twice a day. Before taking medical marijuana, she said she took opioids for several health conditions causing pain and weakness.

All board members expressed regret at having to discuss Enright’s termination, but the majority ultimately upheld the school district’s recommendation to fire her.

This woman never would have lost her job if she were using opioids or other prescription medications. She also wouldn't have lost her job if she drank alcohol on the weekends or every night after work. But because she chose to use cannabis — and even did so legally under state law — she is being punished. 

As Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried put it:

“No one using medical marijuana to avoid deadly opioids should be fired for 'drug use' — and definitely not our public school teachers. This is wrong."

This is just one of the many reasons we need broader cannabis policy reform in Florida and at the national level. It also highlights the need for medical cannabis patients to be informed about their rights and the ways in which they can still face this type of unfair punishment.

WISE Florida co-founder Sally Peebles, who is also an attorney and co-chair of the Florida Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee, explained to a local Fox network affiliate:

"[Florida's medical cannabis law] legalized medical marijuana use for card carrying patients but it didn’t force private employers or public employers to allow for the consumption on site or allow their employees to use. There’s a bit of a disconnect there. ...

"[Workers] should certainly go to their employer, look at their employee contract and make sure they understand their particular employer’s rules for consumption of medical marijuana."