The use of marijuana has been steadily increasing in the past few years. This has been brought about by the move done by several states to legalize its use in addition to the sensationalized effects the “420 culture” can do to the user. However, one must not deny the fact that this drug can also be harmful and may even cause accidents in the workplace. It is important to understand what an employee is getting into and the consequences he might suffer by continuing to be a marijuana user whether it is for medical purposes or otherwise.
What the law says about the use of marijuana
Colorado has passed a number of amendments to the law in relation to the use of marijuana in the state. In 2000, Amendment 20 was approved which is a comprehensive measure that allows the lawful use of medical marijuana for those that are suffering certain conditions. In 2012, Amendment 64 legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults. However, employees should not use this as a security blanket. A part of the amendment states that an employer is not required to permit or accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace. Neither does this law affect the ability of the employee to enforce policies that restrict the use of marijuana by its employees.
Despite the number of states that have approved similar legalization rulings, federal law still classifies marijuana as an illegal schedule-1 drug together with heroin and ecstasy under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
The famous case of Brandon Coats
The case of Brandon Coats sheds light on the true status of marijuana use in the country. He was a telephone operator for Dish network. He was paralyzed in a car accident and had to resort to marijuana to control his leg spasms. He possesses a medical marijuana card and consumed cannabis off-duty. He was then fired in 2010 upon failing a random drug test. He challenged the company’s zero tolerance drug policy claiming that his use was lawful under state law. He also argued that the medical marijuana is what allowed him to perform his job. His case was upheld in both trial court and the Colorado court appeals. It was then escalated to the State Supreme Court. Nine months after oral arguments from the two sides were heard, the court sided with the firing of Mr. Coats. It ruled that the term “lawful” refers only to activities that are legal under both state and federal law.
Workers’ compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex especially when use of drugs such as marijuana is involved. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of employees since 1997 to get the benefits that they deserve. Contact us here or call us at (866) 356-9898 for your free consultation.