You Can Be Fired For Medicinal Marijuana Use
You can be fired for using Marijuana during non-working hours. This seems to go against the intent behind legalizing marijuana. The intent was to treat recreational marijuana like alcohol and while maintaining a medical marijuana laws. The intent was to allow those who have debilitating medical conditions to continue to use marijuana in a responsible manner. This came with a knew understanding that marijuana does have a pain relief effect, as well as other medical benefits. So how is that a man who used marijuana on his off time to relive muscle spasms from his quadriplegia be fired?
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COLORADO SUPMRE COURT DECISION- Marijuana is illegal federal drug
In a recent Colorado Supreme Court decision, the court held (6-0) that an employer can fire employees for using medicinal marijuana even if the use is during non-working hours. The case stems from a Dish Network employee that used medical marijuana after work to reduce the pain he felt from muscle spasms caused by his quadriplegia. During a random drug test, he tested positive for THC and was then terminated. There is no dispute that the only reason he was terminated was because of the positive THC test.
The question in this case was if Dish Network violated section 24-34-402.5, C.R.S. (2014) by firing Coats for using medicinal marijuana after working hours. This statute makes it an unfair and discriminatory labor practice to fire an employee based on the employee’s “lawful” outside-of-work activities. Here the question for the court was is medicinal marijuana a “lawful” activity. The answer provided by the court was NO this is not a lawful activity.
The court found that for an activity to be lawful and protected under this statute, it must be lawful under both state and federal law. Marijuana is an illegal drug according to the federal controlled substance act. If an activity, such as medicinal marijuana is legal under state law but illegal under federal law, federal law will trump the state law.
The court did not question the medicinal effects of marijuana or Mr. Coasts need for medical marijuana. This case was narrowly decided on the question of federal versus state laws on marijuana.
Why Marijuana and Medicinal Marijuana is Illegal Federally
It is unknown why the federal government still puts marijuana as a schedule I drug. This classification is reserved for drugs with no medicinal purposes and that are highly addictive. Other substances in classification include: heron, LSD, and ecstasy. One level down, or schedule II drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone and fentanyl. It seems absurd to classify marijuana as a more dangerous drug than cocaine, methamphetamines, and oxycodone- all of which are shown to have a damaging effect on a person.
Finally, if we go down to the federal schedule IV drugs we find Xanax, Valium, Tramadol, and Ambien. All of which are classified as less dangerous and addictive then marijuana. It appears that the government has demonized and criminalized marijuana (finding no medicinal benefits) but allows higher potency pharmaceuticals, like oxycodone or opioids to be given out like pez. A practice which many believe has led to a heroin epidemic in our country.
After all, a person can have significant levels of Xanax or oxycodone and not be fired from a job, why demonize marijuana. It is not the court’s failure, but the federal government’s failure to recognize the ridiculousness in their own classification scheme. Perhaps if the marijuana industry had the ties to congress like the pharmaceutical industry we would have a different result.
It would be interesting to see what the decision would have been, if marijuana was a lower scheduled drug, one that supports medicinal purposes. It could be that the decision would have been different.
Bottom line: Marijuana is still illegal federally, even in Colorado.
Jesse Waters is head content writer and article at God Men. He found out about his love for writing when he was struggling with cancer. His works are very sensitive and he writes with his heart.