New Mexico Employers Are Not Required to Accommodate Employee’s Lawful Medical Marijuana Use

In an early 2016 decision (Garcia v. Tractor Supply Company), a federal district court has held that Tractor Supply Company did not violate New Mexico law or public policy by terminating an employee because the employee (lawfully) used medical marijuana.

In this case, the plaintiff (Garcia) had applied for employment with Tractor Supply Company and during the interview process, Garcia advised the hiring manager that he used medical marijuana to treat his medical condition. The employee was subsequently hired for the job and, as a part of the new hire process, was required to undergo a pre-employment drug test. Not surprisingly, the employee tested positive for marijuana use and the Company terminated the employee.

Following his termination, the employee filed a lawsuit against the Company claiming he was unlawfully discriminated against due to his serious medical condition and his physicians’ recommendation to use medical marijuana as a treatment for his medical condition.

In dismissing Garcia’s lawsuit, the Court found that requiring Tractor Supply to accommodate Garcia’s use of medical marijuana would require it to permit conduct that is prohibited under federal law, which is simply not the case.

The Court held that employers in New Mexico are under no duty to accommodate the use of medical marijuana by employees. This decision follows the holdings of similar cases in California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon and Washington.