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Colorado Supreme Court Rules That Medical Marijuana Use Is Not Lawful Off-Duty Conduct

As the laws regarding marijuana loosen, employers are left with wondering whether they can enforce a zero tolerance drug policy.  In Coats v. Dish Network the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that an employer may enforce a zero tolerance drug policy even in a state where recreational marijuana is legal.

In Coats, the plaintiff, who is quadriplegic, used medical marijuana outside of work and consistent with his medical prescription.  The plaintiff was terminated from employment after he tested positive for marijuana. In turn the plaintiff sued his former employer for wrongful termination. The Colorado Supreme Court reasoned that the termination was not illegal, because the federal government still deems the use of marijuana to be illegal.

While this is a Colorado case, it likely sets a gauge for other courts. Pennsylvania employers should consider their drug policies and determine how they intend to enforce their policies.