BOSTON (CBS) – Marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, but using it could still cost you your job. Lawmakers are now pushing to change that.
The legislation proposed by Senator Jason Lewis would ensure that employers could not fire employees simply because they use marijuana recreationally. Bernadette Coughlin, who was fired after she failed a drug test for just that, is happy lawmakers are finally stepping in.
Coughlin is still struggling to find work. “It’s been difficult. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. “When I was fired I also lost my insurance. I lost my vacation time, dental, and vision. I moved to Methuen for this job.”
We met Coughlin back in July when she met with the Cannabis Commission.
She was a Patient Services Manager for Sodexo until she fell on the job in May, which led to the drug test that she failed.
“Oh, so you can go home and you can have a couple of scotches and you can go to work and that’s just fine, but if you have a small amount of marijuana in your system and you get caught at work then it’s not?” she said.
She says that fall had absolutely nothing to do with her use of marijuana outside of work.
“I would never have vaped before work or during work, ever,” she explained.
As it is policy for many different companies to drug test after a work related accident, Coughlin is worried.
“I would hate to see people not report being injured on the job because they are afraid they are going to get fired because they have marijuana in their system. That would be very scary,” she said.
After hearing Coughlin’s story, Senator Jason Lewis decided to work on the bill. Coughlin is grateful because right now it has not been easy to find other work opportunities. “I was a good worker my evaluations were good and excellent,” she said.
She believes that, similar to alcohol, it’s all about using marijuana responsibly.
Now though, she wants people to learn from her story. “Be very careful and hopefully this bill will make it so you don’t have to worry because you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your job for doing something that’s perfectly legal in Massachusetts,” she said.
While the bill is in its drafting phase, according to his communications director, Senator Lewis will be submitting it before the January 18th deadline.