Termination of employee for medicinal use of marijuana off-duty, held valid

Supreme Court of Colorado:
Deciding as to whether use of medical marijuana that is licensed by the State
of Colorado but prohibited under federal law is justifiable to terminate an
employee who consumes medical marijuana off-duty to treat painful muscle spas
caused by quadriplegia, a division bench of Eid and Marquez JJ.,  held that under  the plain language of Section 24-34-402.5
C.R.S. (2014), Colorado’s “lawful activities statute”, the term “lawful” refers
only to those activities that are lawful under both State and federal law, and
therefore, employees who are 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.

The Attorney for
the petitioner, Michael D. Evans, argued that the respondent violated Section
24-34-402.5 C.R.S. (2014) by discharging him from the service due to his
state-licensed use of medical marijuana at home during non-working hours, which
is “lawful” under Colo. Const. Art. XVIII S. 14 of the Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Amendment,
notwithstanding any federal laws prohibiting medical marijuana use.

The trial court
dismissed the petitioner’s complaint for failure to state a claim after finding
that Medical Marijuana Amendment does not make the use of medical marijuana
“lawful activity within the meaning of Section 24-34-402.5. The majority of
Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the trial court that medical use of
marijuana is prohibited by federal law, as it is not “lawful activity” for the
purpose of Section 24-34-402.5. The Court granted Certiorari and after review
of the Court of Appeals opinion, affirmed that the term “lawful” as it is used
in Section 24-34-402.5 of the Colorado’s
“lawful activities statute” is not restricted in any way, and declined to
engraft a State law limitation onto the term. Accordingly, the Court upheld the
termination of the employee as the federal law does not recognize the medicinal
use of marijuana as “lawful”. [Brandon
Coats v. Dish Network, LLC., 2015
CO 44, decided on 15.06.2015].

Source: Legal news India

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