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Pharmaceutical discrimination against the law in Colorado

Discrimination in the workplace takes on many forms. Recently, the Supreme Court in Washington state ruled that an employee may be terminated for off-the-job marijuana use. The ruling goes on to state that the termination was legitimate regardless of whether the employee has a prescription for medical marijuana use. In the realm of Colorado employment law, certain instances of termination for the use of medical marijuana as prescribed by physician may be considered pharmaceutical discrimination.

Rulings across the nation have supported the fact that employers were within their rights to terminate an employee for medical cannabis use. Even states that have had a cannabis mandate in place for many years have been subject to court rulings that contradict those laws. For example, a court ruling from Oregon stated that an employee who uses cannabis as prescribed by a physician under the cannabis law is still "engaged in the illegal use of drugs."

People who oppose the use of marijuana for medical purposes likely view these court rulings as a certain measure of victory. Opponents of legal cannabis use state that allowing employees to engage in the use of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, only seeks to increase the risk of injury or death on the job. However, the statistics on workplace injury and death seem to negate that argument in full.

Data published by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the total number of workplace injuries in the United States has fallen since 1994. Between 2007 and 2009, the number of workplace accidents plummeted 20 percent. These years also marked a period of time when self-reported marijuana use spiked.

In addition to Colorado, Oregon and California have legalized the use of marijuana. But despite these state's laws, however, some employers still view the use of marijuana off the job as an adequate reason to terminate employment. People facing workplace discrimination as a result of cannabis use under prescription by a physician may find that a working knowledge of state law could possibly help them retain their employment.

Source: AlterNet, "Fired for Using Legally Prescribed Pot? Pharmaceutical Discrimination Is Alive and Well in the Workplace," Paul Armentano, 22 June 2011.

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