Workers Can Be Fired for Marijuana Use
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Workers Can Be Fired for Marijuana Use
Posted by CN Staff on June 16, 2015 at 06:23:30 PT
By Jack Healy
Source: New York Times 
Denver -- Even in one of the country’s most marijuana-friendly states, smoking pot off the job and away from work can still get an employee fired.That was the unanimous conclusion of the Colorado Supreme Court on Monday, in a closely watched workplace lawsuit involving a customer service worker who uses medical marijuana to help soothe the painful spasms he has suffered since a car accident left him paralyzed. The worker, Brandon Coats, was fired from Dish Network in 2010 after testing positive for marijuana in a random drug test.
The court’s decision was a blow to marijuana advocates, who have consistently seen court rulings go against them, with judges in Colorado and elsewhere saying that companies have the right to create their own drug policies. The loss by Mr. Coats highlights the limits of marijuana legalization at a time when more states are approving medical or recreational uses of a drug that is still outlawed as a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government.“The federal government has in many ways the last say,” said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver who studies legal issues swirling around marijuana’s growing place in society. “As long as that federal prohibition is in place, the states can only do so much.”Twenty-three states allow medical marijuana, and Colorado is one of four that have legalized the drug’s recreational use for adults. But Colorado is now confronting a backlash from two neighboring states, sheriffs, rural property owners and a hotel company who argue in separate lawsuits that Colorado’s network of state-licensed marijuana retailers and dispensaries is illegal, bad for property values and public safety, and should be dismantled.In another backlash, dozens of cities in Colorado and Washington State have banned marijuana dispensaries from their limits.Despite those conflicts, the regulated marijuana industry has become a presence here. There are marijuana-themed yoga classes, cooking seminars and gallery events, and the state is taking in millions in tax dollars from marijuana sellers. Federal law enforcement officials have largely allowed states to proceed with their efforts to regulate medical and recreational marijuana.But the federal prohibitions on the drug have made it difficult for dispensaries and regulated growers to get bank accounts or lines of credit, and have forced marijuana businesses to pay abnormally high tax bills. Marijuana advocates said the court’s ruling on Monday highlighted the legal gray areas where marijuana intersects with employment law and other matters, such as custody disputes and housing cases.Lawyers for Mr. Coats argued that his medical marijuana use should have been covered by a Colorado law aimed largely at protecting smokers from being fired. It says that employers may not fire workers for “any lawful activity” outside the workplace.Mr. Coats, who said that marijuana had worked “like a miracle,” had a medical marijuana card from the state, and said he smoked only at home, away from work, and that his use did not affect his job performance answering calls from cable-service customers.But though marijuana may be legally grown in basements here and sold in downtown Denver dispensaries, the state’s high court ruled that the clash in state and federal laws meant that Mr. Coats’s use was not “lawful.”“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,” Justice Allison H. Eid wrote in the court’s 6-to-0 decision.The Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling upheld two lower-court decisions. In a statement, Mr. Coats’s lawyer, Michael Evans, said that the decision was “devastating,” but that it at least clarified the boundaries of marijuana use for employees.Lawyers said the ruling could have wide ripples in Colorado. Cathy Klein, a lawyer in the Denver area, represents a nurse who was fired after testing positive for marijuana. Ms. Klein said that the state nursing board has been trying to order her client into a drug treatment program, and that Monday’s decision would reinforce societal images of marijuana users as low-level criminals.“The fact that it is a crime under federal law, that part of the decision is going to be persuasive,” she said.A version of this article appears in print on June 16, 2015, on page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: Workers Can Be Fired for Legal Marijuana, Colorado Court RulesSource: New York Times (NY)Author: Jack Healy Published: June 16, 2015Copyright: 2015 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #6 posted by afterburner on June 17, 2015 at 20:48:10 PT
Why Is Israel Cracking Down on Medical Marijuana
Why is Israel cracking down on medical marijuana?
This trend, which contradicts growing global trends and public debate in Israel, has led many to question whether the Health Ministry is colluding with pharmaceutical companies.
Rotem Elizera.
Published: 	06.15.15, 23:36 / Israel News,7340,L-4668802,00.htmlJust legalize it. Choose life.
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on June 17, 2015 at 08:59:47 PT
I didn't much think he would either, The GCW.
But I sure hoped he would. Some company out there has phone work or something that he could be an excellent employee at. The ways and teachings of Christ... wouldn't it be something if more people actually paid attention to them, or actually practiced them? Something my Dad used to say just came back to me, about some people that wanted to look and act like they were cowboys but didn't really want to do the work. "All hat and no horse".Too many people that claim to be Christians are like that. "All hat and no horse." And mostly... they don't have a clue. Even when a "Clue" smacks them in the face... like the New Testament. As a "Friend" of mine once said when I made an effort to add my two cents to a conversation about something... "Don't start that love crap". That's the way too many of them feel. They are only doing the Christian facade thing... "Just in case". But don't start that stupid "Love" crap with them.And "Drug store cowboy" was an entirely different thing back in the forties and fifties. But like the drug store cowboy of that era, there seem to be a lot of "Church House Christians" among us, too. 
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Comment #4 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 16, 2015 at 19:59:31 PT
Human Rights
More proof that business runs this country.Back in the day, "We the people" and democracy were an experiment.
What we have today is a declining planet driven by greed. And, human rights are just collateral damage. 
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on June 16, 2015 at 18:46:04 PT
I had no illusion He would get His job back.The opportunity to discriminate against fellow humans is diminishing. The opportunity to kick a paralyzed citizen is getting exceedingly rare and there are people who relish that opportunity as a value where no price is too high. No shortage of that type.Some people get high by running or smoking cannabis; some people get high by kicking the paralyzed while their down. I can not imagine their rush.
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on June 16, 2015 at 17:43:06 PT
Mr. Coats
I was so hoping he would get his job back. What an admirable man he is. I'm really sorry he's being treated like this.To fire him and to disallow the use of an herb that is so helpful to him is extraordinarily selfish... and foolish.Sorry, Mr. Coats. I pray he get's a better job. And soon. And is allowed to use his helpful herb.
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on June 16, 2015 at 07:00:14 PT
Dish Network? 
Sounds like the name of an exclusive dating service?
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