There's bad news for pot users in Colorado. While it may be legal to use cannabis in Colorado, employers can fire workers if they test positive for pot on the job — even if employees rely on marijuana for medical reasons.
Colorado's Supreme Court ruled Monday that Dish Network had a right in 2010 to fire quadriplegic employee Brandon Coats after he failed a company drug test for marijuana, reports CNN Money.
Coats had a doctor's authorisation to smoke medical marijuana, which has been legal in Colorado since 2000 (it was also legalised for recreational use in 2012). Coats, who relies on the drug to control muscle spasms, says that he never used the drug — nor was under its influence — on the job, which wasn't disputed by Dish.
But the company says it has a zero-tolerance drug policy, and that medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law. A Colorado statute protects workers from being discharged for "lawful activities," but the court ruled that it doesn't apply in Coats' case.
"Employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute," said the court's decision.
While the case applies only to Colorado, it could have broader legal implications for other states.
Coats' attorney, Michael Evans, called the decision "devastating."
"Although I'm very disappointed today, I hope that my case has brought the issue of use of medical marijuana and employment to light," said Coats, who remains unemployed. "If we're making marijuana legal for medical purposes we need to address issues that come along with it such as employment."