Once a year, the West Virginia Supreme Court visits the West Virginia University of Law in Morgantown. During its most recent visit on April 5, 2022, law students were given the opportunity to witness real cases as they were presented to the Supreme Court of Appeals. This annual tradition is an invaluable opportunity for law students to gain a fuller and more rounded insight into the importance of their chosen profession.
During this year’s WVU visit, Attorney Lonnie C. Simmons argued a case before the West Virginia Supreme Court. In the appeal “West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training vs. Bobby Beavers,” Mr. Simmons addressed a growing issue with workplace drug testing. As over-the-counter medications that contain cannabidiol (CBD) become increasingly popular, workers who use otherwise legal products face consequences such as suspension and even job loss.
In this particular case, Bobby Beavers, a coal miner, used an over-the-counter sleep aid that contained legal amounts of CBD. The following day he was required to participate in a random workplace drug test, which he subsequently failed. His surface miner certification was then suspended, leaving him unable to work and earn an income. All of his prior and subsequent drug tests showed no signs of marijuana or any other illicit substances in his system. His claim that the failed drug test was related to the medication and not marijuana use was corroborated by a pharmacist as well as a bank statement that proved he purchased the sleep aid.
Current drug testing protocols do not differentiate between tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main compound in marijuana found in the body from CBD products, and THC that results from smoking or ingesting marijuana. During the appeal, Mr. Simmons argued that coal miners should not be subjected to losing their livelihoods over the legal use of permitted substances.
Since 2012, coal mining industry employers have been legally required to perform substance abuse screenings among workers. These screenings look for both alcohol and specific drugs, including THC. Changes to this legislation are necessary to protect coal workers who utilize legal, over-the-counter medications that contain the compound CBD.
DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC are proud of the hard work and dedication that Attorney Lonnie C. Simmons has shown to this case. Whether helping car accident victims, families of loved ones who have suffered nursing home abuse, or wronged workers who are pursuing appeals all the way up to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, our attorneys are tireless advocates for those in need. If you need to discuss a potential legal matter with a qualified and knowledgeable attorney, you can contact our offices to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Your first meeting is always free.