Brandon Coats, right, with his mother Donna Scharfenberg sitting by his side, Sept. 30, 2014.
Kathryn Scott Osler — The Denver Post/Getty Images
By Katy Osborn
June 15, 2015

Colorado’s highest court upheld a ruling on Monday that employees can be fired for using medical marijuana while off-duty.

Brandon Coats, 35, a quadriplegic who has used medical marijuana to relieve muscle spasms since 2009, sued the satellite TV company Dish after he was fired from his job as a telephone operator after failing a random drug test, the Associated Press reports.

Coats’ attorney argued in court that he was never high on the job, and that his marijuana use was protected by a Colorado state law under which employees cannot be fired for legal activities performed off the clock. But Dish Network attorney Meghan Martinez maintained that the company has “a zero-tolerance policy. It doesn’t matter whether he was high or not,” she said.

A trial court judge and Colorado’s appeals court both found that Coats did not have a right to his job back, saying that for an activity to be “lawful,” it must be so at both the state and federal levels. On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the ruling.

Colorado permits medical marijuana use along with twenty-two other states and Washington, D.C. Courts in California, Montana, and Washington state have all recently made similar rulings against medical marijuana patients fired for drug use.

The ruling is expected to have repercussions for recreational and medical marijuana users alike in states where the drug has been legalized.

[AP]

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