While marijuana continues to become legal across America, the issue of how it will be treated in the workplace remains in limbo. Since the federal government is leaving it to the states, their respective courts make the decisions. But the hurdle that arises is that federal companies within legal states can still prohibit marijuana in their workspaces, even if that state has ruled that using cannabis is okay. Federal law trumps state law in this matter and that becomes the hot topic of debate. The Supreme Court of Colorado could be taking the first step in figuring out how to better police the issue–it all depends on an upcoming ruling.
Colorado’s highest court is currently considering whether a worker’s off-duty use of medical marijuana is protected under state law. This case involves medical marijuana, but the court’s decision could also affect how companies treat employees who use the drug recreationally.
According to an article in Yahoo, Colorado’s Supreme Court is scheduled to issue a ruling in the case of Brandon Coats. In 2010, he was fired by the Dish Network after failing a drug test, even though he was a medical marijuana patient. Coats didn’t use marijuana at work and wasn’t accused of being high on the job.
Coats claimed his cannabis use was allowed under a state law that protects employees from being fired for legal activities off the clock. But the company claimed that because pot is still illegal at the federal level, medical marijuana isn’t covered by the state law. Dish has a zero-tolerance drug policy.
The Yahoo article points out that the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision is important for many reasons, one of them being that State Supreme Courts in California, Montana and Washington state have all ruled against fired patients.