FOX 35 investigates legal grey area with medical marijuana use and employment

A legal grey area when it comes to employment and medical marijuana use has led to several Floridians losing their jobs, including Brevard County teacher Allison Enright.

"I’m a rule follower. I would not knowingly jeopardize my career," Enright said.  

FOX 35 found reports of similar cases across the state – a firefighter in Hillsborough County, city employee in West Palm Beach and nursing student kicked out of school in Fort Myers.

Florida residents voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, so how is this happening?

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"It 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," said Sally Kent Peebles, an attorney on the state’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee

Marijuana is also considered illegal at the federal level. 

Several Central Florida school districts we reached out to – Osceola, Flagler, Lake, Marion and Seminole - all say they follow a federal drug-free workplace policy like in Brevard County.

"Fact of the matter is marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law and the school board has to follow federal law," said Rep. Randy Fine, (R) Brevard County.

But others argue this grey area could be leading to more legal issues.

"Just like if you terminated someone for being pregnant, that would be discrimination. Terminating someone for having a health concern that leads to medical cannabis being the prescription is absolutely reflective of a discriminatory practice," said Rep. Anna Eskamani, (D) Orlando.

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"I think it clearly violates the will of citizens of the State of Florida," said Russell Cormican, an attorney who has represented employees in medical marijuana cases.

Some state lawmakers are looking to clear up the confusion. This senate bill would create job protections for public employees using medical marijuana. But for now, experts say workers should do their homework.

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"They 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," Peebles said.