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Colorado Court Rules that Colorado Workers Can Be Fired Smoking Marijuana


This is a case that was discussed in the New York Times this week. While I agree with the ruling of the court, I am not going to get into a conversation about the use of medical marijuana. Speaking for me and my blog, smoking marijuana is still illegal according to the Federal Statutes.

The government cannot pick and choose which statutes it chooses to prosecute based on a particular state. For instance, what if people in Mississippi decided that they enjoyed making homemade crystal meth and voted to make it legal in the state? Would the federal government allow people all over Mississippi to have crystal meth labs in their homes? I seriously doubt it.

Colorado has embraced selling marijuana and has made it legal. The good news is if you still believe in the court of law, the court has said that employees can be fired for lighting up marijuana on Friday night. The court ruled in a unanimous verdict on Monday. The case was based on a worker, Coats, who used medical marijuana for pain related to a car accident. He was fired due to a random drug test.

I have watched a number of programs on 60 Minutes in which the prominent business community has regretted allowing marijuana to become legal in the state. First, it has led to an overcrowding of homeless people living on the streets and begging for money. The homeless have a lot of health problems that drain the health care system in its totality. And third, the visitors are not as wild about taking their children to a state and are concerned about being exposed to illegal controlled substances.

The court’s decision was a blow to the marijuana industry. The court ruled that companies can still restrict usage of employees. The position makes sense to me. Would you want an employee at work under the influence of a Schedule I narcotic? What if the employee was driving a piece of heavy equipment? The company would be held liable for any workers’ compensation claim. May I add again that marijuana is still outlawed by the federal government as a Schedule I controlled substance. Condoning illegal activity is a slippery slope and can lead to all sorts of health, community and moral factors in a community.

Colorado is beginning to see that the grass is not always greener on the other side. The federal government will not allow any legal pot agency to maintain a federal bank account. The feds do not want the money in the bank because the activity itself is illegal, but will allow businesses to sell the pot on the street. Thus, this is an industry that is still in the Wild West stages and I am sure there will be litigation over the next ten years.

Lawyers for the Defendant, Mr. Coats, argued that his medical marijuana use should have been covered by Colorado law. It says that employers may not fire workers for “any lawful activity” outside the workplace. I believe the real issue here is that the law can have it both ways; you can smoke and we can fire you for smoking it even though it is legal. Does this not seam confusing?

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