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PTA President-elect Asked To Resign After Confusion Over CBD Oil

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah – Angeline Washburn tried over-the-counter CBD oil for depression.

“I am the president-elect in our PTA,” said Washburn, who lives in Eagle Mountain. Make that former president-elect of her local PTA.

After telling friends, “I guess someone told the principal that I had taken marijuana or something.”

Soon after, the Utah PTA asked to meet with her.

“They needed me to turn in my resignation, and I was shocked,” Washburn said.

As a nonprofit, Amy Choate-Nielsen says the state PTA errs on the side of caution when it comes to kids.

“In this particular case, Utah PTA and the Alpine School District feel that the right action was taken,” Choate-Nielsen said.

“Utah PTA has no objection to its volunteers taking CBD oil or any other medication under consultation with their medical provider,” she added.

She says an initial misunderstanding was part of the problem.

“It wasn’t totally clear what it was that she had taken,” she said.

Angeline Washburn of Eagle Mountain says she was shocked when the state PTA asked her to resign her position-elect over confusion about the CBD oil she was taking.

Angeline Washburn of Eagle Mountain says she was shocked when the state PTA asked her to resign her position-elect over confusion about the CBD oil she was taking.

Confusion over marijuana products is not uncommon, even with paid employment. CBD oil is a non-hallucinogenic hemp and marijuana extract.

“There’s a lot of misperception out there,” said Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem. He says an employer has to prove on-the-job impairment. “You can’t just fire because they’re taking it. There has to be some safety factor, some performance factor associated with it,” he said.

But attorney Ryan Nelson says it’s more complicated.

“It’s a minefield in some respects,” said Nelson, who is with the Employers Council.

Employment law in Utah hasn’t really addressed it yet.

“As an employee, understand that the medical cannabis act doesn’t necessarily eliminate your employers’ ability to regulate the workplace,” Nelson said.

An employer can still decide what they’re comfortable with and what they’re not, according to Nelson.

Washburn appealed with the state PTA.

“I wanted my name cleared,” Washburn said.

Her appeal was denied.

“I think I just have to be more wary about what people can handle,” she said.

Nelson is holding briefings to educate employers about how to handle the hot-button issue.

“What we would caution an employer not to do is a knee-jerk, emotional reaction based on my personal feelings or religious beliefs,” he said.

Nelson says the issue requires careful investigation, and knowing the facts, and understanding the ambiguities of employment law.

These uncertainties in the law mean the confusion in Utah is likely to continue. Other states where medical marijuana has been legal longer are making court rulings and laws that address employment rights and usage.

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