In the case of Brandon Coats vs. Dish Network, a quadriplegic with medical authorization to use medical marijuana, was fired by Dish Network in 2010 after he failed a company drug test. The ruling marks a victory for employers with a zero tolerance drug policy.
[COLORADO – June 29, 2015] – The Colorado Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that employees can be fired who use medical marijuana, even though medical marijuana use is legal in the state. The recent ruling upheld Dish Network's firing of Brandon Coats for smoking marijuana outside of work. The ruling is a victory for employers wanting to reinforce the principles of a drug-free workplace.
In the case Brandon Coats vs. Dish Network L.L.C., the former telephone customer service representative for Englewood, Colorado-based Dish Network argued that he was wrongfully terminated back in 2010 for using medical marijuana outside of his workplace. Coats is a quadriplegic. When he was 16 years old, he was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed into a tree. The accident left him paralyzed in over 80 percent of his body. As a result, he has suffered from severe involuntary muscle spasms and seizures ever since. Coats had a doctors medical authorization to use medical marijuana, claims to have never used the drug while at work, and presented that he was never under the influence of marijuana while at work. Though marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000 and Dish Network did not dispute “non-use claims”, Coats was fired by Dish Network after failing a company drug test. Colorado is one of 24 jurisdictions that have legalized medical marijuana. Colorado is also one of five jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
Dish Network stands by their zero-tolerance drug policy, citing that medical marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. As such, Dish Network adamantly says the use of marijuana for any reason, including authorized medical use, is cause for termination. The issue at hand is the conflicting legality that is presented between the state and the federal law. Though marijuana is legal on the state level, it is not on the federal level, which causes confusion and conflict for many. There is a law in Colorado that protects employees from being terminated for lawful activities, however in the Supreme Court ruling, the court cites that the law refers only to activities which are legal under both state and federal law. "Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law, are not protected by the statute," said the court's decision. The court further found that even though Colorado has legalized marijuana for recreational use that businesses may still bar marijuana use by their employees.
The court’s decision can have broader legal implications for other states as they move to legalize marijuana use for recreational and/or medical use, as it is still illegal on the federal level. The case has the ability to set a precedent for other states as the states lawful acts statutes are being trumped by the federal law. Thought this case is based as a Colorado decision, the court’s decision brings to light the discrepancy and issues involved with the lawful use of medical marijuana and employers rights. In essence, medical marijuana patients who legal use it for medical purposes actually do not have the right to use it. For those prescribed marijuana legally for medical purposed, the issues and clear discrepancies need to be presented and addressed by state legislature to provide protections to those with medical needs.Read more »
Legalization may make it more difficult to buy marijuana in Canada. Vancouver City Hall announced that they will start licensing the Vancouver city marijuana dispensaries.
[VANCOUVER, BC– June 23, 2015] – Though the vice laws in Canada have seen many changes in the last few years, it has not radically affected how law enforcement and the Canadians behave. On April 20, 2015, Vancouver was home to the world’s unofficial marijuana holiday. More than 30,000 people convened around the Vancouver Art Gallery for the annual smoke out. The event that began in the 1990’s has since become the largest open air markets in Vancouver. The event included more than 300 vendors selling marijuana infused products. Interestingly enough, since the event is technically considered to be a protest, there are no permits required, no age limits, and no sales tax collected, as it is considered illegal transactions. Several thousand people gathered for the event, and it is treated more as a civic union rather than something to be stopped by the police. Though police are there, they are only there to direct traffic and assure public safety. This leads one to wonder, is it legal or illegal?
Technically, marijuana, it’s by products, derivatives and preparations, are banned in Canada. Those needing it for medical purposes can obtain marijuana, with a doctor’s authorization, from an Ottawa-sanctioned catalogue of commercial growers. Otherwise, those found in possession of marijuana are subject up to five years in a federal prison. In current times, thousands live their entire lives without a clue that cannabis is illegal. Though in smaller locales being in possession of a joint might get you arrested, in larger locales, it is easier to get high now than it could ever be under legalization. As such, Vancouver City Hall recently announced that they would begin licensing over 80 of the city’s marijuana dispensaries. This is more than the amount of McDonald’s franchises in the area. Though the city does not have jurisdiction regulating the sale of marijuana, it does have jurisdiction to regulate how and where businesses operate. Despite the license Vancouver provides dispensaries, the purchase and sale of cannabis remains illegal. The activity continues however because the Vancouver law enforcement has openly declared they have no intention of doing anything about it. With this, most citizens under the age of 30 years old, have never known a world in which they could be cited for anything less than shipping a container full of cannabis. It is important to note that though there is a sense of acceptance to marijuana the rally event sent 64 people to hospital with symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Seven per cent of drivers that were injured in car crashes had consumed marijuana just hours earlier, and two year ago, marijuana was named as the reason for a trail derailment of a B.C. train.
With the ability to obtain marijuana tax-free and readily available on most street corners in Vancouver, other cities may quickly following leading many to wonder, is it legal or illegal?Read more »