Medical Marijuana Users Face Employment Challenges

FRESNO, Calif. Many medical marijuana card holders say they should have the right to use marijuana to take away their physical pain. But many are finding out that having these cards prohibit them from either getting a job or even keeping their jobs.

"They're not driving my truck. I don't care what they say," said employer Jim Ganduglia.

Jim Ganduglia owns a trucking company in Southeast Fresno. His family business transports hazmat and non-hazmat products all over California. The owner says his 18 drivers all have to go through a rigorous drug and alcohol test that includes marijuana, before they can take the wheel.

"You want him to have smoked a marijuana cigarette 48 hours before? 24 hours before? I don't want to go there," said Ganduglia.

"The drug tests don't prove under the influence at all. It just proves that you have done it. It has nothing to do with intoxication," said Medical Marijuana user Idell Tarver.

Idell Tarver disagrees with Gandulgia. She's an electrical engineering major at Fresno State and also happens to be N.O.R.M.L.'s region president. The group is a statewide organization dedicated to reforming California's marijuana laws.

She admits she'll probably have to quit to get a job, but without the alternative medicine in her life, things would be tough.

"My bones are pretty much twisting in my body. My shoulders, my hips, hands and feet. I always have severe scoliosis and I have metal bars all the way down my spine to hold it together. It hurts. It hurts everyday."

Despite the difficult decision she might face in the future, she continues to fight for the right to legally use and still get a decent job. But it seems that the law will not be on their side.

ABC 30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi thinks any legal claim on their end will be rejected. "They can make that attempt but I don't think they're going to do well. I think the law is on the side of the employer."

There was California Proposition 215 passed by voters in 1996, but it never required employers to make accommodations or waive any workplace rules for legal cannabis use. That could change with the new ballot initiative in November.

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