The occupational hazards of medical pot, the 15-week abortion bill, and Krasner in defiance Spotlight PA

Laid off workers and frustrated employers are facing off in court over Pennsylvania’s vague safeguards for medical marijuana patients.

While state law protects workers from being fired or denied employment simply for obtaining a doctor’s permission to use medical marijuana, those protections become opaque when people take drugs, even off clock hours.

Despite calls for clarity from businesses, cannabis advocates, lawyers and at least one judge, the legislature and governor have so far failed to explicitly define the rights of dozens of workers and employers.

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Pa. protects workers who are approved for medical marijuana — but once they use it, that’s a different story.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania law does not address patients’ rights to use the drug while away from work, and unlike some other states, it does not include protection if they fail a drug test but are not weakened.

Traces of marijuana can remain in a patient’s system for up to 30 days, and drug tests cannot distinguish when the drug was taken.

“I feel like I have a target on my back,” said Todd Douglas, a medical marijuana patient and Philadelphia Gas Works employee.

After a random drug test in November indicated he had used marijuana, Douglas, who says he doesn’t work on live gas lines and has never been stoned at work, found himself reassigned and forced into therapy.

He pushed back and a federal oversight agency later ruled in his favor, but other patients have endured lengthy legal battles over marijuana-related layoffs and unemployment benefit denials.

Court rulings could ultimately provide clarity, but legal observers say lawmakers should just address the issue head-on.