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Fired Medical Marijuana Patient Awarded Unemployment In Colorado

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Urine TestBy Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

A medical marijuana patient in Colorado has been rewarded unemployment benefits after being fired from his job for positive drug test results.

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in Sosa v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office that the evidence presented by an employer at a claims hearing fell short of proving a sufficient basis for the denial of unemployment benefits to the man, who tested positive in the employer’s drug screen, according to Lexology.

A registered medical marijuana patient was required to undergo urinalysis when his supervisor claimed the employee exhibited “behavior suggesting he might be under the influence of drugs.”

When asked to undergo testing, he responded that he would likely test positive, as he was a medical marijuana patient and had recently consumed marijuana for medicinal purposes.

His test results were positive, and under the employer’s “zero tolerance” policy, his employment was terminated.

At the hearing, a Human Resources representative for the company testified about the employer’s “zero tolerance” policy. However, the employer didn’t present any evidence that the laboratory conducting the test was certified or licensed. This was seen as a crucial omission by the Court of Appeals.

“Although the outcome is disappointing for employers, the decision implies (while not saying so explicitly) that such benefits will be denied in similar situations if employers present some readily available evidence in the trials of such claims,” according to a press release from Sherman & Howard, the law firm representing the company.

Sherman & Howard represented the employer in the appeals following the initial hearing officer’s award of unemployment benefits to the claimant. The Industrial Claims Appeals Office overturned the initial award, ruling for the employer, and the ICAO decision has now been reversed by the Court of Appeals.

colorado cannabis“We have argued in the appeal that the employer’s certification/licensure evidence omission should have no significance,” Sherman & Howard’s press release plaintively states. “Our contention, which is supported by legal authority, is that evidence of a lab’s certification or license is merely intended to ensure the accuracy of the drug test results, a matter that became moot when the claimant himself — when directed to go for testing — said he would likely test positive.”

“The ‘silver lining’ in this decision is that this employer’s unfortunate mistake need not be replicated,” Sherman & Howard said in the release.

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.

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7 Comments

  1. CONTACT AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS AND AMERICANS WITH DISABILITYS
    getting your story out to the public is very important!

    They dont even test for cannabis in CA , half the police unions would be fired
    sorry to hear your story , in this economy losing a job could be a death sentence for older people and sick people , I get sick to my stomache reading stories like yours
    shame on them!
    keep the faith and get your story out , you have nothing to be ashamed of I have been unemployed for 3 yrs , i took a break last week and the pain is back 2 fold.
    medical Cannabis users note when someon asks what your card is for , ask them how much is the mortgage on there house or what color underwear are thy wearing!
    or none of your F’n business!
    This info is private , between a DR and a patient and is protected by whats left of the law.
    keep the faith 1 door closes and another will open!

  2. Elloquent hard fight Sonny – so how’s the job scene going? Working for a dispensery yet? How about remote tech support – work from home?

  3. Sonny Meyers on

    My unemployment claim that was originally denied on appeal to ICAO has been vacated and remanded from the Colorado Court of Appeals back to the ICAO with directions to show where I was made aware that MMJ is a prohibited drug for which I was tested. See details at sonny.meyers@gmail.com.

  4. I was fired for testing positive for medical marijuana after using it lawfully, on my own time and in the privacy of my own home. The fact that residual amounts remain in my body days later — which residual amounts do NOT affect my work performance – is not a lawful cause to fire me. While the company kept saying they follow federal law – therefore my consumption of cannabis was illegal — and that Amendment 20 means nothing to them – we argue that corporations who register to do business in colorado are required by Title 7 to obey and submit to Colorado Law. Additionally, federal law carves out an exception to medical marijuana as does state law. Please read excerpts from my brief and offer your comments. http://www.AtYourPeril.com

  5. I have my medical marijuana card and a friend/co-worker snitched me out for taking two hits when I was at work. I have had three bout to have my fourth foot surgery. She smoked with me many times and she has no card. They fired me but didn’t care she smoked I was on the job. Can I get unemployment does anyone know. Gotta love back stabbing friends.

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