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Colorado Supreme Court: Employees Can Be Fired For Marijuana Use, Even Medical, Even If Off The Clock


fired marijuana jobA fear that many marijuana consumers have to live with is the fear of being fired from their job for marijuana. That fear is very real, even for medical marijuana patients who only use medical marijuana while off the clock in the privacy of their own homes. It’s a fear that I have had to live with throughout my adult life. A lot of people e-mail me asking if they can be fired for using legal marijuana, both medical and recreational. Each time I have to give them the sad news that yes, you can be fired for using legal marijuana, at least according to case law. There have been a handful of legal challenges to the firings, and every single time those challenges lose in court.

Today there was another case that was ruled in favor of the employer, this time in Colorado. Per The Denver Channel:

The Colorado Supreme Court issued a ruling Monday affirming a lower court’s decision to uphold the firing of an employee for using medical marijuana off-duty.

“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 (lawful activities statute),” the justices concluded.

The case involved 35-year-old Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient who was fired from his job at the Dish Network after failing a drug test in 2010. Coats said he needed the drug to help with violent spasms and seizures he has suffered since he was paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident.

So a quadriplegic employee who is a valid medical marijuana patient in a state that also has legalized recreational marijuana can be fired from his job, even though he was a great employee by all accounts. How is that fair? As many people have pointed out on social media, there is no one getting fired under similar circumstances when alcohol is the substance being used off the clock. As more and more states legalize recreational and medical marijuana, this is an issue that every marijuana consumer needs to be aware of. Just because medical and/or recreational marijuana is legal at the state level does not protect you from being fired at your job, no matter what the circumstances are. I’d like to see people boycott the Dish Network due to this obviously ridiculous, un-compassionate policy. Employees should be judged based off of their skills and work ethic, not based off of the content of their urine or saliva.


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Johnny Green


  1. They are to upkeep the constitutional law, which is supreme over all others, including state laws, which means d.c. is ignoring our rights when it writes laws inconsistent with our constitutional spiritual and bill of rights

  2. Cannabis is integral for me, spiritually, socially, and medically, and i work best when i am feelin best, and cannabis does that like no other… isomerized is best and soxhleted, and i understand some shops sell the stuff too, thank heavens, can not WAIT:-)

    wondering if butane hash isomerizes the hash or not, something to google, im off:-)

  3. I believe Donkey is implying their point has been proven.

    (But I’ve never been great with Latin, so I could be incorrect?)

  4. American_No_Hyphen on

    I feel the fired person broke the rules of the company he worked for: he broke his word. You can be fired for that, not doing what you said you would. So I think the owner has rights also, he puts up the money for the company. and takes the risk.
    Especially regarding work hours. As a 51 yr. smoker of reefer, it does mess your ability to do some things Come on, don’t we really smoke the sh*t so we can chill, drift and relax, that’s not good for doing business.
    People F*** up too much at work when we’re stoned. So let’s keep it real.
    Off work its a little different story, your time is your own.
    I think the company was wrong.
    It’s one thing to bar a pilot or engineer, from getting high the night before, but I doubt this young fellow was doing these dangerous sorts of jobs.
    My question is who would work for a company that has these sort of rules. Still you would think in this day and age things would be different.

  5. Probably not. They only see 80-100 cases a year and there are thousands added. This is a pretty controversial topic and I don’t think it meets one of the requirements to go all the way up.

    As far as I’m concerned there’s no conflict among different circuits. It’s not dealing with a federal law so it wouldn’t shoot up to federal courts. There is another qualifier I can’t remember.

    The only hope is that since the ruling was that the term ‘lawful’ only applies to an act that is legal under both state AND federal law would allow it to be a federal question. I doubt that it would even reach federal courts though just because that isn’t as compelling as the other cases that meet the qualifiers much easier. Plus if they ruled on the case it would have nothing to do with marijuana use and almost everything to do with whether an employer can fire someone for following a state law and not a federal one. But I just don’t see how it would make it to the U.S. Supreme Court, especially because the state Supreme Court was the one that decided on this.

  6. Victoria Dawn Matlock on

    Enslaving some one is not like smoking bud there different one is about some one bring beeten and the other is about domr one choosing to smokingoksmoking pot

  7. Victoria Dawn Matlock on

    Yes but it dose not I have a Co friend loyer friend says no to that

  8. Victoria Dawn Matlock on

    donkey I know everyone from DR’s To cop’s who smoke it so go away

  9. Victoria Dawn Matlock on

    Well you are right we need To get Rosanne And Melissa On Bord and fight for the Rights of the ill who need this LPN Victoria Matlock

  10. Really … Clueless stoners you clowns .. You and your kind created this mess … And you dumb ass fake marijuana activists posing as medical marijuana supporters to get the medical vote .. Beware of fake activists they are posers looking to ruin your way of life …

  11. I am strictly referring to workers compensation.
    The reason for my encroaching on this discussion is. I have known several people who have gotten seriously hurt on the job and were afraid to seek help and start a claim. This left them without income and proper care for their injuries. Which by the way were not due to intoxication but rather a high incident occupation and the law of averages.

    Even with a green card.
    I can be fired for having THC in my system. I can be refused a job if I cannot pass a drug test. But I cannot be denied WC when I get injured on the job.

  12. I have been a member for twenty five + years. Most of that time I did not partake and have not consumed alcohol since 93.
    I have no problems cheating when I believe in personal responsibility more than a system corrupted by profit. Unions are not the answer. They are for profit, full off cronyism and hardly accountable to its members. “my personal experience” Either way you are taken advantage of. The collective bargaining process is really the only advantage.

  13. i question your statement, as the voters have no say in your opinion, and i do not believe that the voters will stand for the slavery they are called to take part in

  14. Can’t wait to bake my brain tomorrow with the fresh batch of skunky goodness:-)
    I can think of no better way to enhance the day

  15. The constitution of the united states of america is a federal document, is it not?
    The constitution and the bill of rights are on our side, and whoever writes them off are enemies to our country.
    Federal laws against our Constitution and bill of rights, are not consistent with legal law now is it, as our constitution and bill of rights trump all other laws
    So why are people going along with laws contrary to the promises granted us in the Constitution and Bill of Rights ?

    The answer to that question is the problem.

  16. I’d like to know how it is that YOU are in any union.
    Here in Indiana, I was told that I can not join, until I stop toking for 30 days to cheat a unconstitutional illegal drug test.
    What did you do, cheat?

  17. where do you read that?
    I see no such wording
    gees, what – does one have to leave this war torn country to find peace?!
    how can any court be for the enslavement of people that happen to use cannabis
    they used to whip people with dark skin into submission to be their slaves too, but they stopped doing that, cause if they didn’t stop, they themselves would go to jail
    i do not see why we have no representation, yet they wish to tax us, taxation with no representation is illegal
    why we have no protections from the government, just war
    sick of being told no freedom for us by a bunch of dictators and czars, posing as nice citizens with suits, practicing high treasonous activity, the traitors to humanity

  18. so you are angry that – well i admit i never read them either as i do not live there and did not vote, but you are angry that it is regulated at all then? is that the thorn that is making you so disagreeable?

  19. so you commit libel and slander at every opportunity don’t you

    Care to share?

    Tell us all what the matter is

    Whats wrong with you?

    you know what your problem is
    you like us, but you won’t admit it
    many many people do not choose to do what you would consider wise, as many of us believe that being rude to people like you are, is an under-achievement of human relations, kindness, and spirituality, so please do not assume that we look up to the likes of your kind as we do not

  20. if you have such a hate for cannabis imbibers, why are you at a cannabis related site?
    I ask, not knowing if i should even talk with the like of you, as i would not want your dis-eased hate in my head

  21. Stoners make up less than 10% of the population, and many are already under-achieving slackers, or medically debilitated, so Employers will never need to cater to their whims or desires.


  22. Colorado DESERVES this ruling, because the Brain-dead Bong-sucking Stoners who wrote, supported and promoted those ineffective festering turds A20 and A64 — the fake “legalization initiatives — EXPLICITLY declared that EMPLOYERS and The Government shall have the power to Continue to Discriminate Against Marijuana Users.

    It’s WRITTEN into the Amendments !!


    Attention Clueless Stoners — stop whining and complaining about the Amendments YOU VOTED FOR!


  23. Thank Jah that the idiot AUTHORS of A20 and A64 — Marijuana McShysters — deliberately and explicitly allowed Employers and the Government to CONTINUE their Discrimination against Marijuana Users.

    Good thing that Brain-baked Bong-sucking Stoners were too STUPID to read what they actually voted for.

  24. Kathleen Chippi on

    you make no sense. Why would I be happy that the highest court in CO just ruled ALL cannabis use illegal?

  25. Kathleen Chippi on

    Well you can and that case was clear in Colorado: Beinor v. ICAO. The employer, yes, paid into the fund yet Mr. Beinor was denied benefits based on his state licensed MMJ use (and firing for it’s use). The state can and did chose not to pay.

  26. Fair enough.
    On a side note, I fully endorse your push to address the issue of protections for MMJ patients. I am an Oregon resident and my attending would only be for moral support, provided I would be able to attend at all.
    None the less this issue, which has been an issue since Ca. established its MMJ program 1997, is a problem that demands attention post haste.
    I salute you Ms. for your excellent work.

  27. Kathleen Chippi on

    NO. My point is CO language is in the Constitution. OR language is not and can be changed/amended/corrected w/o a vote of the people. CO cannot change anything w/o a statewide vote of the people, which will probably never happen, because people ‘think’ it’s all legal in CO.

    “At its broadest application, the court’s ruling puts the Oregon Medical
    Marijuana Program in doubt, he said. Federal law labels marijuana an
    illegal drug while Oregon says medical marijuana use is legal, and the
    court appears to be saying federal law trumps state law, Meneghello

    The CO ruling is broadly saying our state constitution is trumped by the federal law w/o the court considering our state Constitution, hence no cannabis is “lawful”. OR can fix things much easier than CO can.

  28. Your point? That the constitutional amendment in Co. should trump their supreme court ruling?

  29. best weapon is the vote, also dish is very big in col. start dumping them and use direct tv, have done this already in ohio,, join me in a strile against dish tv

  30. Hi, I am a unionized construction profesional. you cannot lose your workman’s comp due to drug use. It is the employers responsibility to make sure all the workers are fit for duty and that inhibited workers do not threaten fellow workers due to their being under the influence. If you want me to research further and give you concrete data let me know and I will follow up. Companies often use scare tactics when they catch someone under the influence post accident, they then apply pressure for the injured to settle.

  31. it is best not to have anything to do with employers that are for our imprisonment
    it is best to be independent, and if everyone were, the federal government would have less bite
    they take oaths to protect us, yet war with us instead
    politicians are not unlike isis
    they are terrorists in our very country.
    ok, just ate mashed potatoes with chicken breast peas and broccoli
    now it is time to canna-med
    i really do need some happiness in my head
    the news of late is so bleak
    it makes one wonder if we will even be alive tomorrow, due to the war loving criminals that pose as dictating politicians
    to hell with them all
    if all they want is war
    then i pray to God that they get what for

  32. Yeah, and if you work in construction you better not get injured. You’ll be tested at the hospital, and lose all worker’s compensation. You could be left disabled, without benefits over a joint you smoked last weekend.

  33. Happily? I guess you have yet to understand what actual happiness and freedom is.

  34. M. Simon, when will people like you begin to understand that the political system is designed to be corrupt? True libertarians are not permitted access to he political system and democrats, like republicans, are bought and sold for by their pay masters. It seems that no matter how many decades pass by, people like yourself will not come to accept the reality that politicians are not, nor have ever been, for the people. But still, just another year and a half to go!

  35. But it is legal in states that have made it legal under Federal Law. Well at least the Feds are not allowed to enforce the law. Time to shake up Congress. More Libertarian Republicans. More Democrats. Let us burn their azzes in 2016. About a year and 6 months to go.

  36. Jordan Shorette on

    lets have another “mock trial” but lets have alcohol be the star I wonder if it would be a 5-1 vote then, old rat bag supreme court needs to be swept out the door like the old dust they are! replace everyone of them, allowing people to serve as long as they can only hurts progress and breeds old world paranoia and stigma. these justices are apparently as STUPID as Dish garbage tv network

  37. Eventually supply and demand in the labor market should take over and force changes in drug testing policy. Maybe if we get a president with some balls…

  38. Kathleen Chippi on

    It needs to be removed from Schedule altogether–because science, sanity and humanity in 2015 demand it. Then there is nothing to address.

  39. Kathleen Chippi on

    Not only can it STILL get you fired, you can still lose: employment, child custody, occupational licenses, gun rights, assets, unemployment compensation, housing, banking, student loans, gov aid, insurance, FREEDOM, organ transplant, adoption etc–basically if you want to consume cannabis you have to give up all other rights and privileges most Americans need to live happily…

  40. Kathleen Chippi on

    Did Coats ever expect to win when his attorney CONCEDED that A20 did not legalize MMJ in CO, CONCEDED that his client had no “rights” and CONCEDED that federal law trumped (anyways…lol)…the brief was a nightmare. He used a non cannabis state statue to defend himself because A20 and A64 don’t legalize anything or protect anyone and their authors (DPA/MPP/Sensible/Soros) intentionally wrote them that way.

  41. Kathleen Chippi on

    Press Conference: What Now? The Colorado medicinal cannabis community responds to the bombshell Colorado
    Supreme Court Ruling in Coats v. Dish Network

    Who: The Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project (PCRLP), Kathleen Chippi and Robert Corry
    When: 12 noon on June 16, 2015
    Where: West steps of the Colorado State Capitol

    The High Court Ruling that federal law preempts state law requires the re-evaluation of the states two cannabis related Constitutional Amendments (A20 and A64) and the states implementation thereof.

    The ruling begs the question: If a qualifying MMJ patient has no protection for loss of employment over cannabis use away from work under the state Constitution, what law is protecting the Governor and other state officials at DoR/MED/CDPHE from loss of employment or imprisonment for conspiring to create, implement or profit from the registering,
    licensing, taxing and money laundering of any illegal A20 or A64 cannabis use, possession, cultivation or sale?

    PCRLP founder Kathleen Chippi , “I’m confident that the voter’s intent in passing A20 was out of compassion to protect qualifying patients, caregivers and doctors from harm and not to create more harm for them. And I’m pretty sure
    the voter intent was not to create an ongoing, for-profit, criminal state enterprise that mandates self-incrimination of Coloradans, while it itself launders tens of millions in “unlawful” drug monies through the state’s general fund at JP Morgan Chase Bank.” She continues, “If it’s illegal for qualifying patients then it’s illegal for everyone, including the state officials implementing what this High Court just ruled “unlawful”.

    PCRLP attorney Andrew Reid, “Neither the United States Supreme Court, this Court, nor any other high court has asyet engaged in a proper and full Preemption Doctrine analysis to determine whether the Congress, the drafters of the federal CSA, ever intended to include state recognized medical uses of marijuana in the CSA’s Schedule 1 listing of marijuana, or whether the listing was intended to be limited to non-medical uses.”

    The PCRLP had an amicus brief in the Coats v. Dish Network case arguing that passage of A20 made the use of MMJ “lawful” and a “right” under state law and exempted the it from the federal law (CSA) as the federal government has never complied with the CSA itself in the “lawful” placement of cannabis on the federal drug Schedule, which requires the federal government prove to “we the people” that any substance they place on Schedule meet all the requirements of that Schedule and they only have 1 year with a one-time 6 month extension to do so. For the last 45 years they have not proven cannabis is Schedule I-V. The Shafer Commission (1970) and DEA Judge Frances Young (1987) both concluded cannabis should be removed from Schedule. This Supreme Court ruling avoids the PCRLP arguments and a full Preemption Doctrine analysis.

    This ruling shows the nation that language written by MPP/DPA/Soros is (intentionally) written to not be upheld in the court of law and puts most at risk of harm, especially after the state allows them to mislead the voters….

    Any and all supporters of the intent of the voting public or medicinal cannabis are invited to attend.

  42. It is to be hoped that such employers will soon be so stigmatized, that they miss out on a lot of talent. Companies with such policies should loose money and go bankrupt if they don’t change their ways.

  43. Michael Miller on

    Because of this ruling, I’m going to smoke twice as much as I normally do.

    Question… The Supreme Court of the U.S. will have to address this topic once it’s removed from schedule I correct? I don’t see how they could not.

  44. This same thing happened in California in 2008. Legalizing on the state level will never be enough, we must push hard for it on the federal level.

  45. Seems pointless to mention supremacy laws without mentioning, that at the core, are our rights and protections that are not supposed to be trampled on, along with the bill of rights for all americans, not just the ones that own corporations, or has billions of dollars, those articles of promise are in writing, and no other laws are supposed to be followed if they are contrary, so why are they warring on the cannabis community through urinalyses, which effectively ruins a persons opportunity to take part in freedom here in the states?
    If common people believe that they should behave to others contrary to the way they want to be treated that says a lot does it not?!

    The president could actually stop the war against us, as his executive order is final.

  46. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaI5IRuS2aE

    This land is made for you and me
    This land is made for those who consume and do not consume sativa or indica you see
    so why the war against those who like cannabis flowers
    why the thinking that a good paying job should never be ours?
    why would any president, not as far as the cannabis community is concerned, protect us from foreign and domestic harm?
    why does the president allow any unconstitutional raids with war like garb, and with automatic arms?
    this is not freedom brother that i can tell you to your face
    for taking part in ruining this country, the president is going to go down as another yellow cowardice disgrace

  47. and federal policy is unconstitutional policy, and the constitution of the united states gives us all our rights, which trumps all other unconstitutional laws, we each are free, and no other can vote our freedom away, and when they do, they are taking part in high treason for warring on us in the first place.

    This country sends soldiers to fight and kill terrorists, now how is ANY politician allowing ANY policies that terrorize all who use cannabis? writing terrorist laws are immoral, and are criminal, so why are they not prosecuted for?!

    toke up i will:-) here in Bloomington, Indiana

    You might recognize Indiana, the only state that legalized Cannabis use for religious grounds alone, and it was signed into law secretly by our nice Governor Pence, and the church opens its doors in indianapolis july 1st, and they intend to toke up too in their CHURCH.
    so there haters of our constitutional rights, what war will the outlaws that work for the police wish to start now?
    We will find out july 1 if freedom is truly lost in this nation permanently or not, and any person that calls storm troopers to raid a church that worships using cannabis deserves the worst fate imaginable

  48. This is not a new precedent. Oregon courts ruled that state workers could be fired as well. This is merely states covering their butts to keep in line with federal policy so the state doesn’t suffer repercussions like loss of federal funding for certain programs.
    Does it blow? You bet, but not new.

  49. Yes, it’s bullshit, of course, for all those reasons.
    But this is not over.
    The courts basically said it wasn’t illegal to fire someone for doing something illegal under federal law, even if it is legal under state law.
    They didn’t endorse it or say it was a good idea. They didn’t take it on as a civil rights issue at all.

    So there is still an opportunity for the Colorado legislature to fix this a number of ways. The simplest is to clarify the “lawful activities statute” in question to say that of course Colorado employers can’t fire people for this. We don’t care if it is illegal under federal law.

    They could also do something broader as a civil rights issue to protect marijuana users from employment discrimination, and other harms like parental rights regardless of smoker status.

    Or, even simpler, the Federal Government can just repeal marijuana prohibition. Problem solved.

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