Marijuana News

Vermont Supreme Court Hears Case of Medical Marijuana User Denied Unemployment Benefits

Vermont Supreme Court Hears Case of Medical Marijuana User Denied Unemployment Benefits


The Vermont Supreme Court is currently reviewing a case that challenges the denial of unemployment benefits to a Rutland man who was fired for using medical marijuana off-duty. Ivo Skoric, 59, a former bus fueler and washer for the Marble Valley Transit Authority, is representing himself in the case. Skoric was terminated in January 2023 after a random drug test revealed his use of medical marijuana, which he uses to treat chronic pain under a Vermont doctor's prescription.

The state Department of Labor denied Skoric's claim for unemployment benefits, stating that his termination for drug use constituted "misconduct" under state law. This decision was upheld by the Vermont Employment Security Board in October. However, Skoric appealed to the state's highest court, arguing that the state misinterpreted the law.

Skoric contends that the state should not penalize or sanction cannabis users for using a medicine that is legal within the state. He argues that the off-duty use of medical cannabis for state-sanctioned medical purposes should not qualify as misconduct under state law.

The case has drawn attention from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Vermont, along with Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform and Disability Rights Vermont, who have filed an amicus brief supporting Skoric's position. The groups argue that the state may not withhold unemployment benefits from individuals simply because they used medical cannabis off-duty, even when an employer may prohibit cannabis use generally or when federal law requires drug testing.

While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, Vermont is one of the states where cannabis is legally sold and consumed and one of the many states that recognize its medicinal properties. However, Vermont's cannabis laws do contain provisions for penalties in certain cases, such as the use of marijuana while operating a vehicle or violating an employer's policy of using it while on the job.

The Supreme Court's decision could have significant implications for the rights of medical marijuana users in Vermont and potentially set a precedent for similar cases in other states. The court is expected to issue its decision in the coming months.


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