Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy

Document Type

Student Comment


Thirty-three states across the country have legalized the use of medical marijuana for disabled individuals. Nevertheless, medical marijuana’s status in the workplace still faces significant uncertainty, because the current understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) categorizes medical marijuana use as an “illegal use of drugs.” Thus, the ADA provides no protection for disabled employees seeking to treat their condition with medical marijuana. In recent years, courts deciding cases involving state medical marijuana and anti-discrimination statutes have brought a more patient-centered and pragmatic approach to the issue. These courts have offered an interpretation of the “illegal use of drugs” provision of the ADA that is both practical and in line with the purpose of the ADA: to protect discrimination against disabled individuals. This approach centers on the idea that the ADA was never intended to regulate drug use outside the workplace, nor was it intended to exclude from protection those individuals using drugs under supervision of licensed professionals. This Comment argues this approach should be adopted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and that employee use of medical marijuana should be protected and treated in the same way as other medications with significant side effects.