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Colorado Supreme Court: Employers Can Discharge Workers Using Medical Marijuana

Kathryn Carlson /
  • Categories: HR

While many States continue to legalize marijuana for both recreational and medical use, some employers are questioning their right to discharge employees who violate company drug policies. On June 15, 2015 the Colorado Supreme Court made their stance on marijuana use clear in the Coats v. Dish Network Case, stating that Colorado’s lawful off-duty conduct statute does not prohibit employers from terminating employees who violate company drug policy by testing positive for marijuana.

Marijuana use is still illegal under Federal Law, which means that consumption, even off-duty and for medical use, remains illegal.  For employers, this means that they may still implement and enforce policies that prohibit the use of drugs that are illegal under Federal Law and that employees cannot rely on Colorado’s lawful off-duty conduct statute as a basis for arguing that their termination was wrongful. For an activity to be lawful in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both State and Federal law. In short, in Colorado, Marijuana users do so at their own risk.

Due to State and Federal conflict, marijuana laws remain somewhat unclear. If you have further questions regarding employee marijuana use for your company or State, contact or consult your attorney.  For help with outsourced HR resources, managing HR training records, benefits administration, or just consultative HR help to bolster your HR department, call KPA today.

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