New York City‘s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) has overturned a Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) decision to rescind a TLC driver license over a failed drug test for cannabis because the license-holder is also a registered medical cannabis patient in the state.
“It is undisputed that respondent’s drug test showed that he ingested marijuana. However, because respondent obtained the marijuana legally, as a medical marijuana patient certified by the New York State Department of Health pursuant to the New York State Compassionate Care Act … [TLC] has not established that his drug test is “failed . . . as a result of illegal drug use,” as required by [law],” Administrative Law Judge Faye Lewis wrote in the decision.
The petitioner, identified as W.R. in the documents due to “the sensitive medical and mental health information,” discussed in the report, did not dispute the drug test; testifying that he had taken medical cannabis capsules “several times a day” since April to treat debilitating pain from neuropathies and diabetes. The 59-year-old petitioner testified that he has not driven a taxicab for at least seven years due to his health issues but wants to retain his TLC license in order to resume driving when he is ready.
Further, Lewis wrote, that “the Compassionate Care Act deemed status as a certified medical marijuana patient a disability under the State Human Rights Law, affording further protections to an employee or licensee.”
“It appears that respondent would also be protected by New York City’s Human Rights Law, which generally provides greater protections than the State Human Rights Law.” Lewis wrote. “As discussed above, because respondent’s use of medical marijuana was legal, there is no basis under the TLC rules to find him unfit to hold a TLC Driver License. Revocation of his TLC Driver License solely because of his status as a certified medical marijuana patient by New York State would be inconsistent with state and city law, and contrary to the TLC rules which specify that a failed drug test is the result of illegal drug use.”
Last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that an employee, registered in the medical cannabis program, fired over a failed drug test could sue the employer for handicap discrimination.