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Court considers whether legal marijuana use is 'lawful'

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posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:54 AM
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Court considers whether legal marijuana use is 'lawful'

This is a BIG milestone in the marijuana legalization effort. While marijuana is legal in Colorado, companies are still firing people over zero tolerance drug policies over marijuana use, both recreational and medical.


DENVER — In a closely watched court case with potential national implications, Colorado's highest court is considering whether an employee can be fired for using marijuana outside of work.

DISH Network in 2010 fired call-center worker Brandon Coats after he tested positive for marijuana. Coats, who is partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, says he never hid his off-duty medical marijuana use from his bosses. Instead, he argues, his three years of outstanding performance show he was a responsible worker who used pot nightly to help control seizures and spasms.

DISH argues Coats violated the company's zero-tolerance drug policy, and says he was treated no differently than an employee who showed up drunk. The two sides made oral arguments before the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Part of the problem is that detectable levels of marijuana can remains in a user's system for more than a month after consumption, long after the intoxicating effects have passed. If the state Supreme Court upholds lower court rulings, it could strip away any protections workers may have for using a legal substance in Colorado.


This man was using medical marijuana to treat uncontrollable seizures and spasms. He was clearly using after work hours and had an impeccable work history. He even let his boss know about this. Yet all that went out the window when he tested positive for marijuana. I think Coats may have a legit chance of winning this. He is citing a prior law on the books in Colorado made to protect cigarette smokers.


Coats brought his lawsuit against the company under Colorado's lawful off-duty activities law, which specifically says employers cannot fire people for doing something legal on their own time. The law originally protected cigarette smokers, among others, and predates the state's legalization of marijuana.

But now Coats is asking the court to consider whether marijuana use, be it medical or recreational, is "lawful" in Colorado. A decision either way could have wide-ranging implications for marijuana users and employers across the country.


Forbes wrote an article yesterday about this growing problem across the 23 states that have marijuana legalized/decriminalize in some form. The article speaks about how employers can approach marijuana legalization and what to consider as far as their drug policies go.

How Marijuana Legislation Will Affect Drug Testing In The Workplace


Can you fire an employee for testing positive for marijuana?

That question becomes more difficult to answer with every passing election. So far, 23 U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana, with Colorado and Washington voting to legalize recreational marijuana as well.

Many employers — especially those operating in states with these new laws — have questioned how these changes will affect their workplace drug testing policies and whether it’s still possible to promote and maintain a drug-free workplace.

Sorting through the changing laws can be confusing at times, but it’s really not as complicated as it seems. All you need is a fundamental awareness of the important facts and stats that should inform your company’s drug policy.


This lawsuit should have far reaching effects across the country when it comes to federal versus state laws and which supersedes which. From the first article:


After the hearing, Coats' attorney, Michael Evans, said the confusion over whether federal or state law takes precedence when state voters have specifically legalized pot needs clarification. Evans asked the court to consider that Coats was working in a non-hazardous, non-executive position for a Colorado-based company, and that no one ever accused him of being impaired on the job.

"We're getting very confusing and mixed messages from everywhere," Evans said. "We know this is not going away. We need to get this clarified. Let's not put our head in the sand, and (let's) deal with this reasonably."


Yes this conflict between state and federal law is starting to come to a head in more ways than one. Legal marijuana businesses are having trouble getting loans or even business checking accounts since banks could be liable federally and put themselves at risk to have their charter revoked if they work with marijuana businesses.
Marijuana Money Is Still A Pot Of Trouble For Banks

I know the federal government is trying to stay out of this issue, but the issue is getting to the point that the federal government WILL have to make a decision on this and soon. Things are coming to a head, and quickly. With the November elections comes the most marijuana reform laws on ballots across the country. After November 14th, if many of these measures pass, how much longer can the federal government stay out of this fight?
edit on 1-10-2014 by Krazysh0t because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:20 AM
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originally posted by: Krazysh0t
While marijuana is legal in Colorado, companies are still firing people over zero tolerance drug policies over marijuana use, both recreational and medical.


It's still a company's prerogative to have a drug policy in place. Nicotine is a legal drug. If a company says it will fire someone over nicotine use, they have the legal right to do so. It would be stupid, but they can do it.

This may be an apples to oranges comparison, but what is starting to happen in Colorado reminds me of something that already happened in Arizona. Wal Mart has a strict drug policy. There is a Wal Mart in a part of that state that had to effectively do away with its drug policy because they couldn't hire anyone. Everyone applying was either on pot or meth. Or both.

When enough people in Colorado start using marijuana to where no one will pass a drug test, companies will have no choice but to amend or abolish their current policies.

The Government doesn't need to get involved. We the people rule the roost when we choose to.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:21 AM
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At the federal level companies like DuPont, Monsanto, the lumber industry, paper industry, big oil and pharmaceutical industry will all fight against any legalization, these industries will be affected the most by any kind of federal legalization.

DuPont and Monsanto was apart of the original industries that backed criminalization/prohibition there chemicals are required to grow cotton among other crops that depend on there chemicals to grow. Pot doesn't require any chemicals, you plant it and walk away till you harvest. This will cut into these chemical companies bottom line.

The lumber and paper industries would be completely be rebuilt, the lumber industry would be almost eliminated as most lumber is used to make paper, with dioxin as one of the chief pollutants. The paper industry would quickly switch to hemp as a cheaper source for the fibers needed to make paper.

Big oil would also see a decline in profits as pot based lubricants and bio fuels would be so much cheaper to produce.

Pharmaceutical companies would also see reduced profit as medicines using a plant that so far hasn't been patented would greatly compete with there products.

We will see how long the people's will, will be hampered by these mega industries and there lobby groups.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:26 AM
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In most cases, zero tolerance means zero intelligence. If they wanted to be fair they should fire anyone who grabs a beer on a Friday night. Or they could not treat employees like slaves. This guy was hardly operating heavy machinery.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:26 AM
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a reply to: Krazysh0t

Here, where I live and work, if a person fails a drug test via urine sample then they get a swab test there and then, although opinions differ, the consensus is that a swab test only picks up over the last 24hrs.

When you work in an industry where the worker is on duty for 4 weeks and off for 4 weeks, you simply cannot punish a person for what they do at home.

Fortunately, the unions here have ensured that corporations see sense in this regard so that is the norm in the sector I work.

What folks do in the privacy of their own home is their business and as long as you continue to fulfill (or exceed) your job description then businesses, corporations and government should respect our freedom to live as we please and just get over it.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:42 AM
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a reply to: Sublimecraft

Exactly! A place of employment has no business dictating what you can and can't do when you are off duty (unless you are on call 24/7 or something). If someone continues to do his job successfully and isn't late all the time, then that person should be free to do whatever they want when not at work.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:45 AM
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a reply to: LDragonFire

I don't know about DuPont, Monsanto, and the oil companies in regards to hemp (hemp doesn't seem to get as much news attention as marijuana does), but here are the top special interest groups lobbying to keep marijuana illegal.

Top Five Special Interest Groups Lobbying to Keep Marijuana Illegal


1.) Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbying disclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.

2.) Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.

3.) Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.

4.) Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

5.) Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:46 AM
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originally posted by: DeepImpactX

originally posted by: Krazysh0t
While marijuana is legal in Colorado, companies are still firing people over zero tolerance drug policies over marijuana use, both recreational and medical.


It's still a company's prerogative to have a drug policy in place. Nicotine is a legal drug. If a company says it will fire someone over nicotine use, they have the legal right to do so. It would be stupid, but they can do it.


Not in Colorado. From the first OP source:

Coats brought his lawsuit against the company under Colorado's lawful off-duty activities law, which specifically says employers cannot fire people for doing something legal on their own time. The law originally protected cigarette smokers, among others, and predates the state's legalization of marijuana.


So no a company wouldn't be able to fire you for smoking cigarettes (in Colorado at least).



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:56 AM
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This is a good thing indeed.

Smoke a legal substance at home, in the evening or at the weekend = no problem.

Show up to work stoned, or smoke at work = problem.


I dont think that either side of the fence has a problem with this.

edit: Interestingly if you drink a LOAD of alcohol and have a huge hangover and cant work, thats obviously bad but still if you show up, you are good to work, yet if you get stoned as hell one night and wake up a bit dozed and out of it for a few hours, thats bad? Really?



edit on b0505913 by Biigs because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:57 AM
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a reply to: Krazysh0t

I don't really believe, but it would be nice if there was a a hell for these people.
They are ruining lives, torturing people for their bottom line. ya thanks.

where the icon for alternative inebriation.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 09:00 AM
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originally posted by: LDragonFire
At the federal level companies like DuPont, Monsanto, the lumber industry, paper industry, big oil and pharmaceutical industry will all fight against any legalization, these industries will be affected the most by any kind of federal legalization.

DuPont and Monsanto was apart of the original industries that backed criminalization/prohibition there chemicals are required to grow cotton among other crops that depend on there chemicals to grow. Pot doesn't require any chemicals, you plant it and walk away till you harvest. This will cut into these chemical companies bottom line.

The lumber and paper industries would be completely be rebuilt, the lumber industry would be almost eliminated as most lumber is used to make paper, with dioxin as one of the chief pollutants. The paper industry would quickly switch to hemp as a cheaper source for the fibers needed to make paper.

Big oil would also see a decline in profits as pot based lubricants and bio fuels would be so much cheaper to produce.

Pharmaceutical companies would also see reduced profit as medicines using a plant that so far hasn't been patented would greatly compete with there products.

We will see how long the people's will, will be hampered by these mega industries and there lobby groups.



I totally agree with you, this all depends upon who is in the pocket of these evil corporations.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 09:11 AM
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Great discussion thread Krazysh0t, I'm glad ATS is allowing us to talk about these laws again.


Coats brought his lawsuit against the company under Colorado's lawful off-duty activities law, which specifically says employers cannot fire people for doing something legal on their own time. The law originally protected cigarette smokers, among others, and predates the state's legalization of marijuana.


This state law obviously trumps some corporate rules even if it doesn't trump federal law.

I'm going to see if we have something similar in Michigan, thanks for the information.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 09:12 AM
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a reply to: nrd101

I think we'll have to wait until ATS let's us talk about personal consumption before we'll get a new emoji for that.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 07:55 PM
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Republicans will win in November and this will be pushed under the rug for a while.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 08:12 PM
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a reply to: Krazysh0t

At this point, my opinion is that IF the user has a legally prescribed card then a company cannot fire that employee for using it even if the company has a no tolerance policy. That's saying you can't take your pain medication because our policy forbids it. In a state where it is legal, a company should not be able fire an employee for doing something legal on their own time.



posted on Oct, 1 2014 @ 09:19 PM
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originally posted by: filosophia
In most cases, zero tolerance means zero intelligence. If they wanted to be fair they should fire anyone who grabs a beer on a Friday night. Or they could not treat employees like slaves. This guy was hardly operating heavy machinery.


How about the person who visits Colorado and legally smokes there and returns to his home state and gets fired on a UA test?



posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 07:13 AM
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a reply to: guitarplayer

Well that has always been a risk for going to places like that outside the country. At least that's the justification I've always seen for that practice. I mean it's also legal in Amsterdam and Portugal.



posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 07:16 AM
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a reply to: smithjustinb

I don't think the Republicans CAN push it under the rug. Keep in mind, the Obama administration currently isn't doing anything one way or the other on this issue. This is all being state's rights issues right now. The Republicans could win office, and can try to ignore it, but the problem will just fester on them causing issues for their reelections the longer they sit on it. Or they could win office and try to crack down on it, but I think that would SERIOUSLY hurt their reelection attempts. So I really don't think that the Republicans can sweep it under the rug.



posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 07:16 AM
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double post
edit on 2-10-2014 by Krazysh0t because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 2 2014 @ 10:32 AM
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a reply to: Krazysh0t

This seems somewhat of a no brainer to me.

A company does not have the right to enforce and insist on being allowed to have any say what so ever, in what a person chooses to do in their personal time, when not on duty and at their workplace. If any such legal capacity does exist, whereby an employer can require that an employee not be a smoker of tobacco, or pot, or a drinker of beer or spirits, or a listener of heavy metal, or any other damned thing in the privacy of their own home, then you are living in a fascism, and I highly recommend, right now, leaving the house by whatever means you have available to you, and getting the hell to the border with either Mexico, or Canada, and seeking political asylum there.



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