So remember last week when JR Smith got suspended five games for his fourth violation of the NBA’s Drug Policy? After a spririted debate in the comments section, I wrote some things about it. Since it’s not so much about basketball as the multi-billion dollar industry that’s perpetuating Prohibition and superseding state laws, it’s here at VICE Magazine:
Take the case of Brandon Coats, a 33-year-old who used to work as a telephone operator for Dish Network in Colorado until he was fired for failing a drug test in 2010. This was a random test, just like the one that ensnared JR Smith—Dish didn’t consider him to be some kind of slack-jawed, drug-sucking fiend who needed to be monitored, he just got unlucky.What makes this particularly unjust is Coats has had a prescription for medicinal marijuana since 2009 to deal with the effects of a car crash that left him partly paralyzed. He sued to get his job back but lost, and the court of appeals in Colorado (where, as you’re probably aware, pot is legal) recently upheld the ruling, stating, “For an activity to be lawful in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both state and federal law.
So when state law conflicts with rules set up by employers, business will trump government. Cool. Here’s how the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, an organization for manufacturing executives, explains the confusing legal conflict(s) thusly :
“The Colorado law—specifically Amendment 64 to Article 18 of the state constitution—prohibits employers from terminating employees for engaging in lawful activities (marijuana possession and use) off the employer’s premises during nonworking hours unless the employer’s decision relates to a bona fide occupational qualification, the employee’s specific duties, or the employer’s efforts to avoid a conflict of interest. However, the Colorado law expressly states that marijuana legalization does not affect the right of employers to maintain a drug-free workplace.” (Emphasis mine.)
The same rules generally apply in Washington, the other state to have fully legalized weed. In 2011, the state supreme court ruled against a woman working as a customer-service rep who was fired for failing a test even though she was taking medicinal marijuana to treat migraines, and even though she had told them she was taking marijuana.
You can read the whole thing here.