DENVER - Businesses can fire employees for using marijuana, even if they are smoking it off the clock and complying with state laws that have legalized the drug, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a closely watched case at the vanguard of lawsuits testing the limits of marijuana legalization.
The court’s unanimous ruling could have wide implications for employers across Colorado, one of four states where recreational marijuana is legal for adult use. More immediately, the ruling declared that a satellite-television provider acted within the law when it fired a customer service employee, Brandon Coats, after he failed a drug test.
Mr. Coats had been using medical marijuana since 2009 to relieve painful spasms that were the result of a car crash years earlier that left him paralyzed. In 2010, he failed a drug test given by his employer, Dish Network. He told the company he was a registered medical marijuana user and was fired a month later.
But Colorado’s high court rejected his argument that his marijuana use was “lawful” under state laws that prohibit companies from firing employees for lawful actions outside of the workplace. The justices said that while Colorado might allow medical marijuana, the federal government still prohibited the drug.
“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,” the justices wrote in their decision.
Source: Free News Headlines Lifestyle Companies Can Fire Workers for Marijuana Use, Colorado Court Rules