Colorado Supreme Court Upholds Employers’ Rights To Fire Employees For Medical Marijuana Use


 2015 CO 44; 2015 Colo. LEXIS 520 

An employee of DISH Network was discharged after he testified positive for THC during a random drug test. The employee was a quadriplegic confined to a wheelchair and obtained a state-issued license to use medical marijuana to treat painful muscle spasms caused by his quadriplegia. He sued DISH Network for wrongful termination.

 The Colorado Supreme Court held that the discharged employee failed to state a cause of action under Colorado law. In light of the conflict between state and federal law on the issue of medical marijuana use, the court held that federal law prevailed. Because medical marijuana use was unlawful under the federal Controlled Substances Act, it did not fall within Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-402.5's protection for "lawful" activities. 

The Colorado Supreme Court’s holding makes it clear that employees who engage in medical marijuana use under Colorado's Medical Marijuana Amendment, Colo. Const. art. XVIII, § 14, are not protected from wrongful discharge under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-402.5 (2014). subscribers can access the opinion at Brandon Coats v. Dish Network, LLC, 2015 CO 44 (Colo. 2015). Lexis Advance subscribers can access it here: Brandon Coats v. Dish Network, LLC, 2015 CO 44, 2015 Colo. LEXIS 520 (Colo. 2015).

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