Tags: Marijuana Legalization | marijuana | pot | workplace | Brandon Coats

States with Legal Pot Pose Workplace Conundrums

By    |   Monday, 08 Sep 2014 09:20 AM

Though 23 states allow the use of medical marijuana — and two have green-lighted recreational use — pot smokers still can't light up without the potential of workplace repercussions, The New York Times reports.

Even after Colorado voters cast ballots allowing adults to buy, sell, and grow marijuana, the 2012 law had no impact on federal law, where marijuana remains illegal. In fact, at least 21 percent of businesses have imposed stricter rules since pot became legal, according to USA Today, which cites a Mountain State Employers Council survey.

"People were scared they were going to have a stoned work force," said Curtis Graves, a staff lawyer for the group.

Marijuana advocates say this amounts to hypocrisy and discrimination.

"There are a lot of people out there who need jobs, can do a good job, but in order for them to live their lives, they have to have this," said Brandon Coats, a 35-year-old Colorado resident and former Dish Network employee who uses medical marijuana to quell pain related to a car accident nearly 20 years ago that left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair. "A person can drink all night long, be totally hung over the next day and go to work, and there's no problem with it."

After a routine drug test, the company fired Coats for violating the company's drug-free workplace rules, the Times reports.

"It wasn't like I was getting high on the job," Coats said. "I would smoke right before I go to bed, and that little bit would help me get through my days."

He has sued Dish Network and later this month the case will be heard by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Coats' situation is illustrative of the conundrum states face by legalizing a drug that remains illegal on the federal level.

So far, the feds have kept their distance. USA Today reports that a 2013 memo penned by Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole stating the Justice Department will not steer its limited resources toward states that have legalized marijuana is a strong indication that they don't plan to get involved, unless the drug is possessed by children or drug cartels.

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Though 23 states allow the use of medical marijuana — and two have green-lighted recreational use — pot smokers still can't light up without the potential of workplace repercussions, The New York Times reports.
marijuana, pot, workplace, Brandon Coats
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2014-20-08
Monday, 08 Sep 2014 09:20 AM
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