Up in Smoke?

Russ Haugen

The effect of recreational marijuana on Illinois Workers’ Compensation claims.

As of January 1, 2020, the consumption and sale of marijuana for nonmedicinal purposes became legal.  Illinois was the 11th state in the nation to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.  The law allows all Illinois adults aged 21 and older to possess up to 30 grams of the cannabis flower or up to 500 milligrams of THC for cannabis-infused products.  In addition to the restrictions on the amount an individual can possess, there are clear restrictions on where you can consume it.  Any person or business can prohibit the use of marijuana on private propertyThe use of recreational marijuana is also specifically prohibited:

  • In any public place, such as streets or parks;
  • In a motor vehicle;
  • On school grounds, with the exception of medical users;
  • Near someone under the age of 21; or
  • Near an on-duty school bus driver, police offer, firefighter, or corrections officer.

As stated above, employers can choose to maintain a “drug-free workplace” and restrict all their employees from marijuana (medicinal marijuana and/or recreational marijuana) use.  As such, provided that it is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner, employers can require an employee to undergo a drug test following a work injury.  If an employee tests positive for drug use or refuses to take the drug test following a work accident, there is a rebuttable presumption that the employee was intoxicated, and that the intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury.

Can I still pursue a workers’ compensation claim with a positive drug test?

The simple answer is YES.  However, if you have a positive drug test following a work accident, your employer will likely deny your claim for benefits under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.  The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act says there is a “rebuttable presumption” which means that you can present evidence to defeat the presumption that you were intoxicated at the time of the work injury.  Therefore, even with a positive drug test, you can still pursue a workers’ compensation claim.

The evidence that will be required to overcome the presumption is different in every case.  Here are a few examples of questions that need to be asked to determine if the employer’s intoxication defense is valid:

  • What time did the accident occur during your workday?
  • Were you working alongside anyone before or at the time of the accident?
  • What, if any, job tasks were you able to accomplish prior to the work accident?
  • Did you have any conversations or interactions with a supervisor prior to the accident?
  • What is the concentration level of the positive drug test?

This evidence needs to be gathered at the outset of the claim.  Therefore, it is important to contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney immediately following a work injury.  The attorneys at Woodruff Johnson & Evans will know how to investigate the claim and secure the appropriate evidence needed to rebut the presumption. 

Can my employer terminate me after a positive drug test?

Yes, but that does not defeat your workers’ compensation claim.  If your employer has policies in place and can show that these policies are applied in a nondiscriminatory manner, it is possible for your employer to terminate you for failing to adhere to their zero-tolerance or drug-free workplace policies.  However, even if you are terminated after a work injury for having a positive drug test, you still may be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits including lost wages and medical benefits.

As such, having a legal team to assist you in pursuing workers’ compensation benefits in this situation is highly recommended.  If you have any questions or would like a free consultation, please do not hesitate to contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans law offices.

Consult an attorney to make sure you are adequately being protected. Call us at (630) 585-2320 or contact us online to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation today.


From day one, Russell Haugen and Woodruff Johnson & Evans handled the work comp case with empathy and diligence. Highly recommended.

I would definitely recommend Woodruff Johnson & Evans to anyone I know that need legal help with a worker’s comp issue. From day one I’ve felt comfortable and was always kept informed on what was going on with my case. Mr. Haugen was always pleasant and empathetic to my case and worked diligently. I would […]

Shelia W

Jay Johnson is a good communicator and speaks to his clients in a language they can understand.

Jay always answers or returns my calls promptly. Jay is able to share information about my claim in a non-lawyer kind of way.

Chris J.

Fighting for My Workers Compensation with Attorney Lee Alhambra Gave Me Peace Of Mind And Victory.

I Had A Nasty Tumble/Fall On A Cushioned Mat Behind A Desk At Work. I Had Been Totally Misinformed And Misled By Employers About Making A Full Recovery And Legal Processes. I Did Not Understand Any Legal Issues. I Contacted Woodruff Johnson & Evans And Spoke With Leandro A. Alhambra. Lee Explained To Me How […]

Karen K

Jay Johnson Helped Me Through A Nightmare of a Lawsuit

I just want to thank Woodruff Johnson & Evans Attorney Jay Johnson and his legal secretary, Annie,  for helping me through this whole lawsuit nightmare. I appreciate your time and effort, and YES, I would  highly recommend you to anyone.

Tammy B

It was a pleasure working with Russell Haugen and the legal team at Woodruff Johnson & Evans!

It was a pleasure working with Russ and his team!!! They explained everything thoroughly and helped me with all my needs during this difficult time! I was happy with the outcome, they were a great referral to me and I will gladly refer this office on to others!

Noelia M.

I would like to thank Dexter & the whole Woodruff team on representing me.

Would like to thank Dexter & the whole Woodruff Johnson & Evans legal team for representing me. Dex, I really appreciate you for standing on my behalf with this long journey.

Kennesha W.

Jay Johnson was on top of everything when I had issues, and kept me informed, would recommend!

Jay Johnson was on top of everything when I had issues, and kept me informed, would recommend!

Timothy T

I have complete trust, confidence and satisfaction in Attorney Russell Haugen.

I have been represented by a number of lawyers in the last 3 years with no satisfaction and no confidence. That changed when Russell Haugen took my case. Russell updated me regularly and truthfully worked on my behalf. With Russell’s council, I received a fair settlement for my losses. I have complete trust, confidence and […]

Dennis C

Lee Alhambra: kind and patient when explaining things, and a calmness that is soothing in stressful situations.

Want to say thank you to Attorney Leandro Alhambra for not just being a good lawyer but for being kind and patient when explaining things. He has calmness that is soothing in stressful situations.


Lee Alhambra will represent you well and will fight for your case. Highly Recommended.

Very professional, detailed and courteous. My case was handled with ease and I’m very grateful! Woodruff Johnson & Evans Law Offices will represent you well and fight for you. Leandro Alhambra is a lawyer I would highly recommend.

Dylan C
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