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Marijuana Legalization: Colorado Court Says No Job Protection for Pot Users

Medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in Colorado, but according to a court ruling, employers in the state can lawfully fire workers who test positive for the drug, even if it was used off duty. The Colorado Court of Appeals found there is no employment protection for medical marijuana users in the state since the drug remains barred by the federal government. “For an activity to be lawful in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both state and federal law,” the appeals court stated in its 2-1 conclusion. The ruling concurs with court decisions in similar cases elsewhere and comes as businesses attempt to regulate pot use among employees in states where the drug is legal. Colorado and Washington state law both provide for recreational marijuana use. Several other states have legalized medical use. Based on this ruling, employees who use pot in Colorado do so at their own risk. In Arizona, however, workers cannot be terminated for lawfully using medical marijuana, unless it would jeopardize an employer’s federal licensing or contracts. The court said lawmakers could act to change the law to protect people who use marijuana, but there have been no plans to do that at the state Capitol.

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