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Jobless Benefits OK For Medical Marijuana Users

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LANSING (WWJ/AP) - A Michigan judge has ruled that medical marijuana users who follow the state’s medical marijuana law may collect unemployment benefits.

Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette made the decision on Tuesday. The ruling overturns a state commission that found a state-approved medical marijuana user, who was fired from her job after failing a drug test, was not eligible for unemployment benefits.

The case involves ex-Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital employee Jenine Kemp of Lansing, who was fired in 2011. Kemp, whose duties included performing CT scans and starting IVs, has Lupus and neuropathy. Kemp, who was issued a medical marijuana card in 2010 to ease her chronic pain, said she usually ingests the marijuana in food after her shifts in the evening.

The hospital asked Kemp to submit to a drug test, which she failed, after a patient complained that she was talking about her drug use, including making a statement that she eats “special brownies.” Even though the hospital found, court documents say, that Kemp “at no time showed signs of intoxication during working hours,” she was fired in June 2011, the Lansing State Journal reported.

Collette said the drug test “merely demonstrated what she had informed her employer of prior to the test — that she uses medical marijuana.”

Michigan voters in 2008 approved the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Current laws pertaining to medical marijuana in Michigan allow for the drug to be used as treatment for certain diseases such as glaucoma, cancer, hepatitis C and Crohn’s disease.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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