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Can I Be Fired For Smoking Legal Marijuana?


colorado denver marijuana drug test work job firedProbably the most common question I get is ‘I smoked X amount of days ago. I have a drug test on fill in the blank day and I’m worried that I won’t pass my drug test at work. Do you think the marijuana is still in my system?’ I’ve got a question similar to that about five times a day for the last year. The question has morphed recently to something like ‘If I travel to Colorado, smoke legal marijuana, can I be fired at my job back home if they drug test me?’

Sadly, the answer is yes, you can be fired for smoking legal marijuana, recreational and/or medicinal. Medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 when it was passed in California, and has since spread to 20 states and Washington D.C. Even legal medical marijuana patients can get fired for consuming marijuana. One recent case involves Brandon Coats. Brandon Coats worked for the Dish Network, then got fired after failing a drug test. He lost at his original trial, and then lost at the Appellate Court level. He is currently waiting for the Colorado Supreme Court to hear his case.

To quote Mr. Coats attorney:

“If Mr. Coats can’t win this case, then nobody can,” Coats’ attorney Michael Evans told Salon. “He’s about as bad as you can get in terms of physical disability … He was a great employee, and they admit that he was never impaired [at work]… He was following all of the laws.”

There are numerous other cases like Mr. Coat’s out there. Most state websites for medical marijuana programs specifically say that you can still be fired in their frequently asked questions.  On the city of Denver’s newly created website, it specifically states in the frequently asked questions:

Can employers restrict or prohibit marijuana use or possession by employees at the workplace?

Answer – Yes. Employers are allowed to regulate or prohibit the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace. Employers may also enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.

Even after marijuana has become legal in many states, the fight will not be over when it comes to employee rights. If you can’t be fired for using alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, whip its, sniffing markers, etc, there’s no reason you should be fired for marijuana if you are not impaired on the job. Hire employees for their skill sets and work ethic, not the purity of their urine. Just because someone smoked a joint off hours weeks ago doesn’t mean that they were impaired on the job today.


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Johnny Green


  1. Teams in the Stoner Bowl XLVIII will be awarded copies of “The Stone”

    For medicinal purposes of course

    Here is a picture of replicas, the Stone and the Stone Dancer

    Here is a pic of The Three Special Stones !!!

    Here is a cross section view of the ToKin Stone

    These features make the ToKin stone a perfect match for Marijuana!

    -Cup your hand over the Joint chamber to snuff it out for later
    -You can relight very short roaches without any threat of burns
    -To rid the stone of short short roaches just give a good blow on chamber #2
    -You can give “pets” or “friends” a nose toke with the stone. Great for medical patients or calming wild beasts
    -You can give yourself a nose toke
    -You can easily give someone a toke by holding the stone to their lips
    -tip the stone back and touch the ash and it falls inside the rock. It’s own ashtray
    -The Toke stone saves marijuana; when you handle a joint it changes the air flow causing poor burns
    -You can easily pass the joint in the dark. Placing it in an open palm
    -A ToKin stone never gets foul tasting like dirty pipes. Enjoy the Marijuana flavor more
    -The Non Brass toke stones can be gently lobbed 5 or 10 feet
    -Put a few drops of menthol on a cotton swab and put that in chamber #2 when you have a sore throat or for flavoring
    -You can toke in the shower or rain by lightly cupping your hand over the burn chamber
    -Brass – aluminum ones can be warmed up using hot water and you can toke outside in 20 below weather
    -makes a great hand / foot warmer when heated
    -Indestructible. You could bash your way out through a wall if you had to
    -Easily cleaned with a standard tooth brush
    -Metal ones are guaranteed for a 1000 years
    -a great paper weight, conversation piece, exercise weight and household tool (crushed ice)

    They Will love ’em

    ( 62 Media stories on Flickr )

    Nothing in North American legend is more sacred than these Medicine stones.

  2. that body cleanse doesn’t work,, i did follow instructions as listed and didn’t pass the drug test don’t waste your money.

  3. You can bet that those Pot Shops have a strict Use Pot Policy. Those that are against Marijuana need not apply.

    Another true life pot story:
    In 1974 I was going for my 2nd interview in the Comptrollers department of the largest Public Utility in Alberta. The interviewer asked. Do your drink. I said yes and probably more than I should. Next He asked have I ever tried Pot? I said yes a couple times.

    I left shaking my head. I had never been asked those questions before or since. I got the job. He wanted a drinking buddy and needed a pot contact. We worked extremely well together. Getting a write-up in the company flyer for saving them over 100,000 dollars per year.

    You win some you lose some.

  4. A lot of companies test due to insurance rates. The harsh reality is that if legal, some people will work stoned. More so than now….that is

  5. stellarvoyager on

    That statement is such garbage that I don’t even know where to begin. If anything, labor unions protect education by doing the following:

    * Making sure only qualified teachers are hired, as opposed to hiring the superintendent’s buddy who happens to be well-connected but incompetent;
    * Upholding academic standards by protecting teachers who flunk students who are not learning the material, even when mom & dad come to complain that little Johnny should get an A even though he flunked all his tests and turned in no homework;
    * Making sure teachers are fired for cause, instead of for political retribution, and ensuring that there is no favoritism when hiring and firing decisions are made;
    * Protecting teachers against discrimination based on age, race, etc., or anything else that is not related to their job performance and qualifications.

    Maybe if you knew anything about teaching or education, or if you talked to some educators, you would understand that educators know what students need much better than politicians do, and that meddling from politicians and corporations is what is really destroying public education in this country.

  6. Then, there you have unions all across the USA and not all of these unions are worth a squat. Sometimes it’s the unions that screw up their own unions charging far too much per hr base and causes those union members to sit out of work for long periods because companies turn to “Scabs.”

  7. However, a person can be fired from his/her job for drinking on the job. It happens every day in the USA, so I don’t know HOW you can say, ‘ you can’t be fired for using alcohol.”

  8. You could make the same argument about people who face legal issues (arrest, etc.) before legalization. The social injustice of the war on drug users, producers and distributors is just as wrong in the workplace. You want to define limits on intoxication (THC levels, not COOH) in the workplace, then fine. You want to control my entire life, 24/365 then pay me 2080 hours of straight time and 6,680 hours of overtime. Freedom!

  9. While it is unfortunate that the employee referenced in the article was fired for failing a drug test, he knew that was a possibility when he accepted the job and began working for the company. Many of the arguments posted are irrelevant to the primary issue of how the current law in a particular state is written. The key factor in this issue is relevant across the country–the written law. If the feds rewrite the law allowing each state to determine their own enforcement (i.e., state law), then employers can function with greater latitude. However, this doesn’t imply that every company will or should automatically rescind their current drug testing policy. The affect that cannabis has on one person can be entirely different on another one, and especially the time duration. I’m sure you have friends who are relatively unaffected by cannabis in any form, yet others are impaired (couch-locked) for hours from minimal ingestion.
    The critical issue for everyone is taking personal responsible for themselves with regard to cannabis use. If you’re in a job that clearly defines the consequences for testing positive on a drug test, then you are responsible for the outcome.
    The sooner we evolve this issue from the stereotypical 60s mindset that commonly comes to mind to a current day form of personal responsibility the easier and faster things will move into an general acceptance mode.

  10. You will have to change the insurance company coverage criteria. It is about time this is also reformed

  11. This is very sad. As long as you are not high on the job it shouldn’t be an issue. I get tested every 3 months at my current job. It’s funny because they know I smoke weed but still test me. I always pass the test by using a 7 day body cleanse. I think it’s usually an insurance issue and have to test you or the company will be liable if anything goes wrong. Link is below for the product I use. http://www.magicdetox.com

  12. pretty much the same situation in the ’60s with guys with long hair, many employers wouldn’t hire a long hair or if they did give them the ultimatum get a haircut or be fired. what did the length of hair have to do with the ability to do a job? it took years of fighting to finally get past that, it’ll take years to fight this as well, but we will prevail!!!

  13. stellarvoyager on

    This is why we need much stronger labor unions in this country. They are one of the only protections employees have any more.

  14. stellarvoyager on

    “If you can’t be fired for using alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, whip its, sniffing markers, etc,…” Except that you can. Most states have “at will” employment laws, which means that you can be fired for any reason, or for no reason at all.

  15. I live with this hanging over my head. I can only hope it will change. ….someday. …..

  16. Pretty sad that this is the case, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and it’s severe. I refuse to take all the meds that they put me on that made me sick, lose my hair, appetite and sanity. I have always smoked but just heightened the intake and got better weed. If I can function better on it, and do a great job, it shouldn’t be an issue, especially if I had a medicinal license. One day it will all be okay,I think but it’s just going to take a lot of us to come together and make it happen!

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