Advocates Call for State and Federal Reform Protecting Medical Marijuana Patients and Legal Adult Users of Marijuana
The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday affirmed lower court decisions allowing employers to fire employees for marijuana use while off-duty. The decision hinged on the state’s lawful off-duty activities statute.
The Court held that in order for the off-duty conduct to be considered “lawful,” it must be legal under both state and federal law. The unanimous decision was not a surprise to advocates working to reform marijuana law and policy in Colorado.
The case involved Brandon Coats, a 34-year-old quadriplegic, who uses marijuana to help with spasms and seizures due to a debilitating car accident. Coats worked as a customer service representative for Dish Network for three years until he was randomly drug tested and subsequently fired for testing positive for THC.
The highest court in the state has now firmly sided with employers on this issue, giving advocates a clear message that state protections are needed, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
The case and many others like it highlight the gray areas and legal fixes needed in Colorado and other states that have reformed their marijuana laws. Given that the substance remains illegal under federal law, any rights bestowed upon civilians by state law fall far short of fully protecting medical marijuana patients and legal adult users of marijuana.
The problem is most apparent in the areas of employment, housing and parental rights.