New England ADA Center
January Newsletter

ADA Question of the Month - Do You Know the Answer?
Medical Marijauna Question : Our state has recently adopted a medical marijuana law. Does the ADA require that employers permit employees with disabilities to have marijuana at work as a reasonable accommodation?

The answer to this month's question is located at the end of the newsletter.

Photo: Creative Commons.

Proposed Rule Aims for Equity in Education in Vermont
Elementary School Students In Vermont, State Board of Education Rule 220 has been proposed with the objective of prohibiting exclusion of students based on disability by independent schools that accept public funds.

Photo: Creative Commons.

Three Newly Accessible Cabins Available at Burton Island State Park in Vermont
Burton Island State Park Three accessible cabins at Burton Island State Park in Vermont are now open and available for reservations. Each cabin has one futon, bunk beds, a table with four chairs, and an electric outlet. Cabins sleep up to four people. For more information, visit the Burton Island page at

Photo: Creative Commons.

MGH Institute of Health Professions Seeking Individuals with Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, and/or Spinal Cord Injuries to Test Smartphone App
MGH Institute of Health Professionals Do you or someone you know have Spina Bifida, Spinal Cord Injury, or Cerebral Palsy? Would you like to participate in a research study on the use of smartphone apps to help self-care? If you are over 12 years old, contact Andrea Fairman at or 617-276-3485 to learn more.

MIT Assistive Technology ATHack Hackathon - Call for Volunteers!
MIT AT Hackathon Wanted: 15 volunteers with disabilities and a problem that assistive technology could help solve. The problem could be something you are unable to do, or even a passion you can't pursue.  ATHack pairs teams of students with volunteers to create prototype solutions.

For more information, email Ishwarya Ananthabhotla at

News From Outside New England
Registration Now Open for the 2017 National ADA Symposium, May 14 - 17 in Chicago
The National ADA Symposium is the largest conference on the ADA! Eighty Breakout Sessions and Pre-Conference Sessions offer learning opportunities for everyone involved with the ADA. Visit for conference information and online registration.

New California Law Modifies Accessibility Disclosure Requirements in Commercial Real Estate Leases
California Governor Jerry Brown A new California law mandates that commercial property owners state on every lease or rental agreement executed after January 1, 2017, whether the property being leased or rented has been inspected by a California Certified Access Specialist (CASp) for compliance with construction-related accessibility standards.

Photo: California Governor Jerry Brown, from Creative Commons.

Justice Department Seeks to Intervene in Lawsuit Over Denial of Rights to Florida Inmates with Disabilities
United States Department of Justice "The ADA and Section 504 afford all people with disabilities, including prisoners, the right to fair treatment and effective communication," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta.  "We believe our participation in this case will help to ensure a just outcome for all." 

EEOC Issues Guidance On Mental Health Conditions In The Workplace
EEOC Seal The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a resource document titled, "Depression, PTSD, & Other Mental Health Conditions in the Workplace: Your Legal Rights," which summarizes the rights of individuals with mental health conditions under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities
U.S. Department of Education Logo The U.S. Department of Education released three new sets of guidance to assist the public in understanding how the Department interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities. These guidance documents clarify the rights of students with disabilities and the responsibilities of educational institutions.

Answer to the ADA Question of the Month

QuestionOur state has recently adopted a medical marijuana law. Does the ADA require that employers permit employees with disabilities to have marijuana at work as a reasonable accommodation?

Answer: Probably not.  Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the ADA does not protect medical marijuana users. Plus the ADA explicitly states that employers can require that employees behave in conformity with the Drug-Free Workplace Act. Of course this is an evolving area of law. To complicate matters, many states have laws similar to the ADA and some of those state laws do protect medical marijuana users. That doesn't necessarily mean that an employer has to permit an employee with a disability to bring marijuana to work, only that the person might be protected from discrimination under the state law. As more states adopt medical marijuana and with a new federal administration, we'll be looking for any shifts in state and ADA requirements.

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New England ADA Center, a project of the Institute for Human Centered Design