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Oregon TV anchor fired for positive drug test

Gosia Wozniacka Associated Press

PORTLAND – An Oregon television anchor has turned into a marijuana activist after being fired for testing positive for the drug.

Cyd Maurer, a morning weekend anchor at Eugene’s ABC affiliate KEZI-TV, said she was fired in May after getting into a minor accident while on assignment. In a video posted online, Maurer said that after the accident she was forced to take a drug test per company policy and failed it.

Maurer, 25, said she was completely sober at work and had used the marijuana several days before. Studies show marijuana, unlike alcohol, can be detected in some people for days after use – or even weeks, in case of frequent users.

Maurer, who has been working in television for the past three years and is a University of Oregon graduate, said she didn’t do anything wrong and felt the firing was discriminatory.

Recreational marijuana became legal in Oregon in July, after Maurer was fired. But even if the incident had happened after legalization, according to the state, KEZI still would have had the right to have a testing policy. Measure 91, which legalized possession and consumption, does not affect existing employment law. Employers who require drug testing can continue to do so, Oregon officials said.

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, even though more than twenty states – including Oregon – allow medical marijuana use. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and Washington, D.C., also allow recreational use.

Kate Kennedy, a spokeswoman for the Society for Human Resource Management, said the organization has received numerous questions from members around the country about the effects of changing state marijuana laws on drug testing. At two national conferences this year, she said, training sessions about drug testing were packed to overflowing.

In June, a court in Colorado ruled that a medical marijuana patient who was fired after failing a drug test cannot get his job back. The patient, a quadriplegic, said he didn’t use the drug at work. The company, Dish Network, agreed that he wasn’t high on the job, but it said it has a zero-tolerance drug policy.

The Colorado justices ruled that because marijuana is illegal under federal law, use of the drug couldn’t be considered legal off-duty activity.

The case was being watched closely by employers and pot smokers in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Supreme courts in California, Montana and Washington state have made similar rulings in the past.

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