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Colorado Employers Receive Victory in Medical Marijuana Case

6.15.15

Adam Brown was quoted in The Street on June 15, 2015. The article “Colorado Employers Receive Victory in Medical Marijuana Case” discussed the recent decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that determined that employers in the state who prohibit their employees from medical marijuana use can continue to discipline and terminate workers who test positive for the drug.

Adam was quoted on what this decision means for employers and employees.

The unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in the Coats v. Dish Network case means it is “highly unlikely” that employees in other states will succeed in similar lawsuits of wrongful termination under state lawful off-duty conduct statutes after being fired for their medical marijuana use, said Adam.

“Other future courts will look to Colorado to see what our court ruled,” he said. “This is a very clearly worded opinion.”

“Some employers are more lax about off-duty marijuana use, while others are stricter and feel strongly about prohibiting off-duty marijuana use,” Adam said. “The Court issued an employer-friendly opinion that will have wide-ranging implications for all Colorado employers.”

The Colorado Court of Appeals rejected his claim and ruled that although medical marijuana use is legal in Colorado, federal law still prohibits any use of marijuana. The Colorado Supreme Court agreed with the court of appeals and concluded “that it must look to both state and federal law to make the critical determination,” Adam said.

The decision is a “significant victory” for employers, Brown said. Even though the decision only mentions medical marijuana, “its logic can easily be extended to cover recreational marijuana use, which is similarly unlawful under federal law and thus not lawful conduct for purposes of Colorado’s lawful off-duty conduct statute,” he said.

To read the full article, please visit The Street.

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