oliticians and reporters today may claim that marijuana is legal in Colorado and other states, but in some senses, it’s still not. While you will not get thrown into jail for smoking a joint in those states, there’s no addendum to the law that says employers can’t decide to administer their own drug tests.
Unfortunately, too many people think that since pot is legal, smoking pot will come without consequences. If you believe that, take a look at Amendment 64, the provision which legalized pot in Colorado. If you read the entire thing, you will notice that the amendment states:
“Nothing in this section is intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace or to affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.”
And it is not just Colorado that has such a section. DC’s Initiative 71, which legalized the ownership of marijuana in the city, also permits employers to fire employees for using marijuana, even if it’s outside the workplace.
To some degree, that is not totally unreasonable.
But what about medical marijuana? If a doctor approved the use of marijuana, as is the case in 24 states, then employers would have no grounds to fire their workers, correct?
Unfortunately, that is not the case, as the Brandon Coats ruling proves. Coats is a quadriplegic who used marijuana when he was not working at his job as a Dish customer sales representative, in order to control pain and leg spasms. He was fired from Dish for failing a random drug test, and he sued claiming that using medical marijuana was legal under state law.
But last year, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against Coats, affirming that businesses can fire employees even for off-duty medical marijuana use; and given that the ruling was 6-0, it is unlikely that this ruling will be overturned anytime soon.
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