Feds Shut down Colorado Medical Marijuana Dispernseries

According to a Colorado Supreme Court ruling on Monday, companies have the discretion to terminate workers who take medical marijuana -- even though the medical use of marijuana is allowed under state law. The ruling served to squash a quadriplegic worker's wrongful termination suit because the use of pot for medical purposes is still illegal under federal law.

The justices ruled on the case 6-0, but one justice decided not to rule on the matter. The case involved a quadriplegic worker, Brandon Coats, who was terminated by Dish Network Corp. in 2010. The man served as customer service representative for the company and was fired after testing positive as a marijuana user.

Dish Network, which maintains its headquarters in Colorado, says that it has a zero tolerance drug policy and its quadriplegic ex-employee was in violation of that policy. They further claimed that even if the man took medical marijuana within the privacy of his home, they have sufficient grounds to terminate him under that drug policy.

After losing his job, Coats initiated a wrongful termination suit against Dish Network in 2011. He said that he was protected by state law, and that it was unlawful for terminating him because the pot use was outside his workplace and perfectly legal under state law. Coats argued that his consumption of marijuana was always in accordance with his state-sanctioned medical marijuana card, and he was using the medication to treat muscle spasms, which were the painful and chronic affects of the car crash that paralyzed him.

According to the Supreme Court and lower courts in Colorado, the man's off-the-job behavior would only be protected if his activities were legal under both federal and state law. Furthermore, according to the state Supreme Court, federal law supersedes state law when it comes to determining the lawfulness of activities that are protected from sanctions by an employer.

As state laws regarding marijuana use continue to evolve throughout the nation, many citizens are left in a lurch as they try to navigate the issue of what is legal and what is not. Do you think that the ruling on this man's case was fair? Also, do you have any experience with medical marijuana labor and employment law issues? Please tell us your experiences, comments and opinions below.

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