Marijuana for medical use is a controversial topic at U.S. federal level.
Recent happenings in Colorado are indicative of this trend. At the same time, they pinpoint the need for increasing regulations on the use of medical marijuana that oversees the federal level as opposed to state laws which are often whimsical and not sufficiently thorough in implementation.
Brandon Coats vs. Dish Network is the case that is now facing the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling.
In 2010, Brandon Coats, employee of Dish Network was sacked for pot use. Coats did not use marijuana at work, nor did he ever show up under the influence at work. However, a random drug test imposed by the company showed that he was using marijuana and Coats was fired.
Brandon Coats was diagnosed as quadriplegic. Marijuana smoking helps him relax his muscle spasms, according to his declarations, off-duty. Nonetheless, Dish Network decided to fire him for drug use, regardless of the motives sustaining it.
In court, Brandon Coats held that under state law, his action was protected. At the same time, he stated that Dish Network’s policy is highly inconsiderate of the law that would allow him to medically use marijuana.
Before the case ended up at the Colorado Supreme Court, it also went to trial court, as well as the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Now, one step higher, the decision of the Supreme Court is bound to have significant effects on employers across the state of Colorado by setting a precedent. The federal level might benefit from the ruling as well as the nascent policies looking at legalizing marijuana at least for medical use are still scrambling with regulation means and implementation.
Therefore, the question that needs to be answered at first is whether the use of medical marijuana is deemed lawful under Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute that allows employers to establish their policies regarding drug use at a micro level.
Under this piece of legislation Brandon Coats sustained that his own experience with medical marijuana is protected. The representative of Dish Network however, do not see things in the same manner. One of the company’s attorneys, Meghan Martinez argued that under the company’s statute, there is a zero-tolerance policy.
At the moment, the ruling of the Colorado Supreme Court is expected to set a definite legal framework that would establish whether or not employers will be bound to tolerate the use of medical marijuana by their employees when they are off-duty.
Similar cases have been presented before the Supreme Courts of California, Washington and Montana. In all cases, the rulings fell against the case of employees.
Perhaps the ruling of the Colorado Supreme Court will help change the tide.
Image Source: cbsdenver.com