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The day before marijuana sales became legal in the state of Washington, Spokane security guard Michael Kelly Boyer put on his tie-dyed tee, went to the Green Leaf with his sleeping bag, and camped out in front of the store so that he’d be first in the city to purchase the newly-legal weed. While he waited, he was interviewed by a local TV station. His employers saw his interview and allegedly fired him. (They deny it – one employer said he was still employed, and the other said they’d only asked him to have a drug test the next day. Probably knew he wouldn’t pass.) This is according to a recent article Employment Law BELIEVE IT OR NOT! via the LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom | Labor & Employment Law Blog.
According to the article, even if state law allows marijuana use, federal law still prohibits it. In fact, federal law prohibits even the use of medical marijuana (and there was no indication that Mr. Boyer wanted his pot for medical reasons). So, if Mr. Boyer was fired, the firing was probably legal. But this is a very hot issue right now – keep particular watch on the case of Coats v. Dish Network, which is pending at the Colorado Supreme Court. In that case, the plaintiff was terminated for using medical marijuana, which was legal under Colorado state law. His termination was upheld at the trial court and at the state Court of Appeals. According to one news source, oral argument at the state Supreme Court is expected to take place later this summer, with a decision in the autumn.
In some states marijuana use is legal, and termination of an employee for marijuana use is also legal.
For more information about the Drug Law Evolution & The Workplace: Managing Risk, Regulations and Compliance, register now for a complimentary webinar scheduled Wednesday, August 13 at 2 p.m. This webinar is sponsored by LexisNexis and is a CLE-accredited webinar, with 1.5 CLE credits are available.