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 photo 187158_main2_zps7e4951fc.jpgPhoto credit: Matt Ferner

Matt Ferner provides an in depth analysis of the legal issues at stake in the Colorado State Supreme Court case of Brandon Coats in Employers Can Fire You For Using Marijuana, But Brandon Coats' Case Could Change Everything,  which I recommend. Coats is quadriplegic who uses medical marijuana to treat muscle spasms for a spinal chord injury while he is off work hours. Dish network fired him for taking his meds off duty because their drug test pick up residual THC still remaining up to 40 days after us.

Coats, who uses medical marijuana to treat debilitating muscle spasms from a spinal injury that left him in a wheelchair, had been a model employee. But Dish Network’s zero-tolerance drug policy prohibits marijuana use, even for medical reasons. When Coats, a customer service representative, tested positive for cannabis during a routine drug test, he was immediately terminated. Because marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, employers can fire a medical marijuana patient who fails a drug test, even in states where it's legal for medical use. ...

Coats sued the satellite television giant for wages and benefits in 2011, alleging that he had been illegally fired. His attorney, Michael Evans, argued that the THC found in Coats’ body during the drug test did not prove that he was intoxicated at work. He added that Coats never used marijuana on the job, never requested special accommodations for his medical marijuana use, didn’t exhibit poor job performance and never endangered the health or well-being of any person at Dish.
...

“This single court case has the ability to fundamentally change policy both in Colorado and nationally as employers and lawmakers grapple with the legal and moral ethics of firing employees for actions that are completely legal under state law,” said Brian Vicente, an attorney and one of the authors of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in Colorado in 2012. “This case further highlights the need to change federal law to respect state medical marijuana laws and to treat medical marijuana patients, and responsible adult consumers, with respect and understanding.”

THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can stay in a person's body for upwards of 40 days -- long after he or she may have felt the effects of the substance. ... Vicente added that employees who use alcohol and prescription drugs outside work are protected from losing their jobs.

I hope Brandon Coats wins this case as it seems absurd to me that either employers, or the government should have the right to tell us what we can do with our own neurotransmitters in the privacy of our own homes.

My son broke his back as a teenager and is held together by a steel rod and eight sets of metal screws. He can walk but is in severe pain every day. He does not take pain medication the doctors offer, or marijuana which is says does work, because both cloud his mind and he is trying to finish college. It makes me desperately ill and furious, at the same time, to see how hard he is having to work to reassemble his life in such an oppressive and stupid country, with such primitive and repressive laws. Many of these laws are complicated, but in this case we could improve them so easily if we had even the slightest bit of compassion and wisdom.

We have reached a 1984 situation and do not even realize it. What surprises me is that we do not all have blood testing devices implanted in  our cerebral cortex that continuously transmit our blood chemistry, neurotransmitter levels, and emotional states directly into N.S.A. computers.

If we have decided to give up our 4th Amendment Rights so our government can collect bulk data on all of us, I would think it would be wise to minimize the number of non-violent crimes there are that we can be arrested for. My understanding is that over 70 million Americans have tried marijuana. What does it do to the legitimacy of the "social contract" that is the political theory our founding fathers and mothers used to legitimize our democracy when approximately 1/3 of the adult population are defined as criminals?

Seriously, America, WTH. All it would take is the slightest bit of wisdom and compassion for our fellow citizens, and we can not even muster that? On an easy day for us? Shame on us.  

2:28 PM PT: Hi everyone. I just return from taking an elderly friend to a financial adviser to help improve her retirement planning. Yikes I rushed this off before leaving, and found many missing words, yet it made the rec list anyway. I think I corrected most of them. Thanks for your tolerance.

Originally posted to And Now for Something Completely Different on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 08:53 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Cannabis Law and Drug War Reform.

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Do you think employers should be able to fire employees for testing positive for medical marijuana they used while off work in states that have legalized medical marijuana?

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