Firing of pot smoking workers deemed legal in Colorado

04/25/2013 // West Palm Beach , Florida, US // JusticeNewsFlash // Justice News Flash // (press release)

Denver – A court has ruled that employers could legally fire workers who test positive for marijuana use. As reported by the Associated Press (AP), the Colorado Court of Appeals determined that protections do not exist for employees regarding use of the drug, despite medical and recreational marijuana use being legalized in the state, because the federal government prohibits its use.

The ruling stems from the case of a telephone operator, Brandon Coats, who was paralyzed in a car accident as a teenager, and fired from a job in 2010 after he failed a company drug test. Coats had used medical marijuana since 2009; however, claims were not made by his employer that he was ever impaired while carrying out his job functions.

The appeals court is quoted by the AP as stating in its conclusion, “For an activity to be lawful in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both state and federal law.”

Coats’ attorney, Michael Evans, who is planning to file an appeal, is further quoted as stating of the case, “This case not only impacts Mr. Coats, but also some 127,816 medical marijuana patient-employees in Colorado who could be summarily terminated even if they are in legal compliance with Colorado state law.”

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