A medical marijuana card is not a defense against an employer’s anti-drug policy, according to a ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court.
The case involved Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic man who used medical marijuana to treat muscle spasms while off duty from his job at Dish Network. When he violated the company’s drug policy by testing positive for marijuana—as he informed his employer he would—Coats was fired. He sued Dish, citing a Colorado statute that protects employees’ rights to engage in legal activities while off duty without fear of reprisal from their employers.
The court sided with Dish, saying that marijuana use cannot be considered “legal” as long as it remains illegal under federal law.
While this has been seen as a victory for employers, many questions surrounding marijuana use and the workplace—for instance, as a treatment for an on-the-job injury or illness—remain undecided.