The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

Wild v. Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc., 241 N.J. 285 (2020). In this case, as discussed here, the Appellate Division reversed a trial level decision that had granted dismissal of plaintiff’s claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. (“LAD”), at the threshold. Today, in a per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that ruling substantially for the reasons offered by the Appellate Division.

The Court stated its agreement with the Appellate Division’s ruling that “there is no conflict” between the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1 et seq., and the LAD. The Justices “decline[d], however, to adopt the Appellate Division’s view that ‘the Compassionate Use Act intended to cause no impact on existing employment rights.'”

The Court identified two provisions of the Compassionate Use Act that might affect LAD claims in particular circumstances. N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14 states that “[n]othing in [the Compassionate Use Act] shall be construed to require … an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.” And N.J.S.A. 24:6I-8 directs that the Compassionate Use Act “not be construed to permit a person to: a. operate, navigate or be in actual physical control of any vehicle, aircraft, railroad train, stationary heavy equipment or vessel while under the influence of marijuana.” At the motion to dismiss stage of today’s case, however, the Court did not view those provisions as barring plaintiff’s claims.