Texas Judge Rules Schools Cannot Ban Teachers from Using Marijuana in States Where it’s Legal

Following the 2016 election, eight states in the U.S. have now legalized recreational marijuana use, and 28 states have legalized it for medicinal purposes. Many say it’s just a matter of time until the legalization of weed gains traction nationally.

But, until then, leaders in a variety of sectors where employee drug testing is practiced will have to navigate the issue of how to treat individuals who live in states where marijuana is illegal, but have used it in locations where it isn’t.

One Texas judge has weighed in.

Following a 2015 trip to Colorado, Maryam Roland, a public school teacher in El Paso, tested positive for marijuana during a voluntary workplace drug test. School officials initially touted the findings as grounds to suspend her license, but Roland argued that she’d done nothing wrong, since marijuana is legal in Colorado.

According to the Austin-American Statesman, Administrative Law Judge William Newchurch agreed with her, saying in his opinion, “Possession of a usable quantity of marijuana is a criminal offense in Texas, but so is gambling.” But the court “would not recommend that the Board find a teacher unworthy to instruct in Texas because she legally gambled in Nevada.”

Newchurch’s decision is said to be one of the first of it’s kind, as prior determinations on similar matters have tended to favor the rules set forth by the regulating bodies of various professions and state licensing boards, for example, in Roland’s case, the State Board for Educator Certification. The Statesman even quotes a Denver attorney who says that even in Colorado courts tend to lean in favor of employers who have rules against their employees using marijuana.

Roland’s case is still ongoing, as Newchurch’s opinion is advisory. Stay tuned here for more updates on the case as it progresses.

And tell us in the comments below – what do you think? Should teachers in Texas be penalized for using marijuana while on vacation in states where it’s legal?

Photo by Katheirne Hitt via Flickr

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