Colo. Supreme Court: Employment policies trump medical marijuana laws

Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that employers may lawfully terminate employees that fail drug tests due to marijuana usage, even if the drug is only used outside of working hours. The Court determined that zero-tolerance policies trump the legal usage of medical marijuana within the state. The case was brought before the Court by Brandon Coats, who was fired from Dish Network in 2010 after failing a drug test due to medical marijuana usage. Coats had a medical marijuana card, and used the drug after he was in a car accident that left him a quadriplegic. While the ruling is a disappointment for those who use medical marijuana legally in Colorado, the Court’s decision provides some much-needed clarity to employers. This ruling will allow employers to craft drug policies without the fear of being sued if they terminate a job due to a failed drug test. Employers are still allowed to determine whether they want or require a drug-free work zone, and can decide for themselves whether to instate zero-tolerance policies. (Some Colorado employers have eliminated THC from the list of drugs screened for during the pre-employment process.) Coats and his attorneys have no current plans to take this case to a higher court. Medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and the U.S. Supreme Court would not be likely to side with employees who utilize marijuana when off the clock. “You need the Colorado Supreme Court to stand up for its own laws,” said Michael Evans, Coats’ attorney. “The U.S. Supreme Court is not going to do that.”]]>

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