Apr 262013
 April 26, 2013

Gavel court colorado discriminate fired medical marijuanaOn Thursday, a Colorado Court of Appeals panel ruled that a quadriplegic medical marijuana patient fired for off-the-job marijuana use had no expectation of job security, creating a disquieting legal situation in the state.

Despite lacking evidence that he was impaired on the job, the Dish Network fired telephone operator Brandon Coats after he tested positive for marijuana. Coats took his employers to court, arguing that his termination violated Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute, which states employees cannot be fired for engaging in legal activities when off-the-clock.

Unfortunately for Coats and the thousands of patients like him, a trial court ruled against him, citing a previous case that declared Colorado’s medical marijuana law only exempts patients from prosecution.

The decision makes it clear: Colorado’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute does not cover legal state activities that conflict with federal law. Meaning, employees may smoke tobacco, drink alcohol, and risk developing a myriad of ailments, but if those employees opt to use a safer substance by following a doctor-recommended course of treatment, they must do so with the knowledge that their voter-approved choice could mean losing their source of income.

Employers are prevented from discriminating against employees based on medical conditions or treatments. Medical marijuana patients should be treated equally, not worse than people who use dangerous narcotics at the direction of their physicians.

Source: Marijuana Policy Project - make a donation

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Mark Edwards

    It’s a shame Colorado employers still lack compassion, that they need to enforce the stupidity of a law where its been made legal.

  • The Grim Reefer

    Piss and blood test everyone in city and state government for illegal drugs, if they test positive FIRE THEM!

    • Jetdoc

      No… that’s NOT gonna happen… Their Public Employees Union won’t allow that to happen!

      • Hardwork

        Well I’m in a union and we get tested at random constantly. Enjoy your weekend that our forefathers gave you.

        • Jetdoc

          You’re taking that ALL wrong! I’m saying that you CAN’T just FIRE a guy for one indiscretion. There’s GOT to be a “progressive punishment system. I was a Union Steward for the Teamsters. I know what that’s all about

    • http://www.facebook.com/silverstorm42 Neal Feldman

      So your answer to unconstitutional government and corporate intrusion literally into your own body is to apply it to everyone?

      Seriously?

    • Sean

      Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/freckwilkinson Lindell Wilkinson

    you had to expect crap like this at first! But just wait. As soon as they see they can’t find many who are qualified unless they except legal weed, they’ll stop testing for it.

    • Jetdoc

      What good is allowing a person the OPPORTUNITY to utilize “Alternative Medicines” to relieve their pain, them telling them if they DO use it however, we’re going to ALLOW employers to FIRE you. Where’s the LOGIC in that? They’ve GOT to protect patients somewhat anyway. Again, what an employee does on THEIR OWN TIME, is really their own business. UNLESS it becomes an OBVIOUS detriment to the work that they put out. Then I believe that an employer should have those rights. But to fire a guy for smoking a joint, during HIS personal time, is IMHO flat out wrong. They’ll let this person drink 28 Scotch on the rocks when they get home from work. Beat the hell outta his kids and Wife, get in the car and end up with a DUI and STILL keep his job, but if he goes home, rolls a doobie sits back smokes the joint, and moves into such a relaxed state that he dozes off during the evening news. Now WHO’S really the problem here? I’m in no way saying that smoking a joint and driving are fine either, but again don’t just make a LAW to HAVE one! If you’re going to have a policy, at least base it off of definitive SCIENCE.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Guy-Dattilo/100003112317355 Guy Dattilo

    The basic problem of establishing marijuana rules is, the folks trying to establish the rules have probably never smoked or been around pot in their lives!

    At 73, I have smoked pot for over 50 years.

    I have been successfully employed (and self employed) during these 50 years.

    I would guess that 90% of that time, I have smoked pot
    the ‘night before’ I was at work!

    I never smoked pot while working (nor do I smoke and drive.)

    Another reason why I have DIRECT TV!

  • Ronald Slagle

    Mr. Coats posed a real danger to our company by having the dangerous drug Marijuana in his system. His dismissal was to protect our company and our Christian beliefs.
    Ronald Slagle Operations Manager Dish Network

    • jo momma

      So, if you aren’t a christian, it is ok to smoke pot. Jews, Buddhists, Islamists can smoke all they pot they want.

    • budz4ut00

      In America, our Forefathers faught so that you and Dish Network could enjoy your christian believes.
      Did you or Dish Network forget to read in your bible where it states “I give you all seed bearing plants….”

      The only time this country hasn’t seen some sort of economical crisis is when our Forefathers were paying the bills growing some Good Ol’ fasion American HEMP and reading about REAL CHRISTIAN VALUES and not preaching the hypocritical BS you or Dish Network obviously believes!

      Now “THE LAW” isn’t good enough for those fraudulent bible thumpers either. Grow up and find yourself a more outstanding religion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/R.I.P1stSGTLackney Tiffany

      So let me get this straight Mr. Slagle… My doctor has prescribed me
      marijuana as an alternate and SAFER pain killer and appetite controller
      so that I may gain the necessary weight to be HEALTHY. And I am not
      allowed to use it because YOU and Dish Network Ceo/supervisors, who only
      see a drug that kids use to get high and not the actual medicinal
      purposes that many use it for today, as well as probably never having
      smoked it yourself (Or you did and once again only did it to get high),
      will not allow me to work for your company? How does a LEGAL substance,
      smoked OFF-DUTY, for my HEALTH so that I may DO the job you hired me for
      in the first place, a “danger” to your company? Was Mr. Coats rude to
      the customers he was assisting? Did he fail to report to work on time?
      Have you caught him smoking on the job? Is he failing to complete the
      work required of him on a daily bases? Did him smoking it AT HOME cause
      any of your other employees to develop any kind of sickness? Did Mr.
      Coats use of marijuana on his own time cause your other employees any
      injuries? Please, explain to me how MEDICAL MARIJUANA, as in my doctor,
      who most likely has a higher level of education that you and certainly
      know more about what is good for me that YOU do, thinks this is a SAFER
      and more EFFECTIVE medical drug for my ailment than anything else, is a
      “danger” to Dish Network? Because the rest of us would really like to
      know. Or maybe it is something else. I can easily imagine you being Mr.
      Coats supervisor and not liking him for some PERSONAL reason. You might
      have already known about Mr. Coats LEGAL marijuama usage and decided
      that in leu of the fact that you couldn’t fire him because you disliked
      him, you gave him a drug test, he pissed hot, and you fired him for that
      despite it being unjust and illegal. People like YOU are the reason why
      I won’t work for big companies like yours. Hypocritical, self serving,
      indifferent and uncaring, money grabbing, and biased is just the short
      list of how to describe YOUR company. I rest my case.

    • http://www.facebook.com/silverstorm42 Neal Feldman

      In what way did Mr Coats present any real danger? In what way, exactly, do you consider cannabis to be ‘dangerous’?

      As for your so-called ‘Christian beliefs’ I guess you just lack comprehension of your own book of fairy tales. I suggest you look up Genesis 1:29 you cherry-picking twerp.

      I will now throw any correspondence from your company in my trash where it belongs and will ask my circle of people to do the same. Great business model you have there.

      Maybe you should install service in the Vatican so all the pedophiles can download their kiddie porn.

    • Sean

      Mr. Slagle, even though I admire your unmitigated gall by posting your cannabis hating pseudo-Christian psychobabble on a pro-cannabis reform site, I still believe that you are FOS.

    • johnny

      Go fuck urself its not a sin to smoke pot asshole

  • Sinsibility

    My position is that urinalysis is an unreasonable intrusion of anyone’s privacy.
    That is what shows up 90% of the time or more.
    If it’s just about marijuana, and MJ’s legal, people must take a stand and politely refuse.
    We need to stand together on this.
    When a test can show current impairment I will take one to demonstrate my at work sobriety,
    but until then, I will not allow my privacy to be compromised.

  • native

    boycott the Dish Network

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolyn.castigliahathaway Carolyn Castiglia-Hathaway

    I love these articles, but sometimes what makes it worth it are the comments! I love how people use their religious beliefs to dictate to me what I, a grow a$$ adult, can and cannot do with my own body. Which in this case THEIR religious views, especially because they are so unballanced and one-sided, conflict with my own that I worship in private and within the sanctity of my own home. Since they are FORCING their religion upon ME and infringing upon MINE, can it not be said that THEY (the government, powers that be, anti-mj activists) are robbing me of the Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion, which is considered to be a fundamental human right? I’m just saying…something to think about.