Vet fired for medical marijuana, sues Presbyterian

Update: Presbyterian released the following statement.

Please see below. We would like to clarify some information about Donna Smith.

Donna Smith, a physician’s assistant, worked for an outside staffing agency – Advantage Locums – and was going to work an assignment at a Presbyterian facility. She was not applying to be, nor was she, a direct employee of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, and was not terminated from any such position. Upon learning of the positive test for marijuana, Presbyterian informed the staffing agency that we did not wish to continue her assignment at Presbyterian. Presbyterian did not ask Ms. Smith’s outside staffing agency to terminate its employment of her. Employees and contracted personnel (including Ms. Smith) who work in clinical settings at Presbyterian Healthcare Services are required to take a drug test. The use of medical marijuana is not recognized by federal law and Presbyterian has a mandate under federal law to provide a drug free workplace. Presbyterian is committed to patient safety and we believe that a drug free workplace is a key component.


Correction: In an earlier version KRQE News 13 ran the wrong photo of Donna Smith. It has since been removed.

Previous Coverage

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A New Mexico veteran, registered with the state’s medical marijuana program, was fired from her job for failing a drug test. She’s now suing and her lawyer says no company, no matter how wealthy, trumps state law. Her employer, however, says it’s following federal law.

“Donna is in 110 percent compliance with New Mexico state law,” her lawyer, Jason Flores-Williams told KRQE News 13 in a phone interview.

Donna Smith is a New Mexico veteran who’s suing Presbyterian Healthcare Services.

“It’s Presbyterian who is out of compliance with New Mexico state law,” Flores-Williams said.

Flores-Williams says Smith, a registered medical marijuana user with the state, was hired by Presbyterian in February and fired four days later after failing a drug test.

He says they knew the physician’s assistant, who suffers from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, was a part of that program.

“I guess they just don’t feel like they need to follow the laws of our state,” Flores-Williams said. “If it was up to Presbyterian, they would simply just bankrupt us and never even have one day in court but the one thing were going to do is were going to have our day in court. That’s the one thing I’m guaranteeing to Donna.”

News 13 reached out to Presbyterian. It says it’s committed to a drug free workplace, adding in a statement “the use of medical marijuana is not recognized by federal law and Presbyterian has a mandate under federal law to provide a drug free workplace.”

“We voted for medical marijuana in this state,” Flores-Williams said. “That means we get to use it.”

A similar story regarding another veteran has reached federal court.

He was fired last year from his job at the Metropolitan Detention Center after failing a drug test. He, too, is a registered medical marijuana user.

No hearing date for the lawsuit has been set yet.

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