In 2013, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the decision by satellite service provider, Dish Network, to fire an employee and medical marijuana patient for using cannabis off-hours. At the time, the court was divided, but voted 2-1 that, because marijuana remains federally illegal, employees have no protection to use it at any time.
Fast forward one year, the Colorado Supreme Court announced in January, it would review the case. The court examined not just whether a special Colorado law that protects legal off-the-clock activities covers marijuana – with which Brandon Coats is using to argue his case – but also at whether Colorado’s constitution gives medical marijuana patients a right to cannabis.
According to the Denver Post, a brief filed with the Supreme Court by the office of the Colorado attorney general agrees with the Court of Appeals ruling and argues “that giving workers a right to use marijuana off duty would have a profound and detrimental impact on employers in the state.”
Coats, a quadriplegic and his attorney have been arguing his case, stating he was protected under the Colorado Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute, which prevents companies from firing employees for doing things outside of work (like smoking cigarettes) that are legal, as stated by the Denver Post. Dish Network argues that Colorado’s statute is invalid as, cannabis cannot be considered lawful when it remains federally illegal.
The lawsuit has drawn strong support for both sides. In addition to the brief filed by the attorney general, six other outside groups have filed a brief in either support of Coats or Dish.
While it has been nearly six months since the Colorado Supreme Court announced their intention to review the case, no date has yet been set for a hearing.
What do you think? Should employees be punished for smoking chronic after hours?