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Colorado Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Employer Regarding Medical Marijuana

August 24, 2015

As a member of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA), NetGain Mobile Diagnostics’ stays up-to-date on many trending issues in the drug testing arena.  One such issue is the use of medical marijuana.  In the article below, DATIA explains the judgment of the recent Colorado Supreme Court decision regarding employers’ rights vs. the rights of an employee using medical marijuana while off the job.  As more States allow the use of medical marijuana (and even recreational marijuana) this decision and others like it will continue to be challenged.  NMD recommends you review your drug and alcohol testing policy on an annual basis and consult with legal counsel to ensure your compliance with state and federal laws.


“On Monday, June 15, 2015 the Colorado Supreme Court made a long-awaited ruling on the Coates vs. Dish Network case.  In short, the decision was made in favor of the employer, Dish Network, upholding the company’s drug and alcohol testing policy. Specifically, the finding was that “lawful” activity must be in agreement with both state AND federal law. Therefore, Colorado employers can discipline or terminate employees who fail drug tests based on use of medical marijuana away from the workplace.

This important ruling reinforces what DATIA has long-held to be a cornerstone of safe and drug-free workplaces: a sound company drug and alcohol policy – when communicated and consistently enforced – is a protection for all employees, the work space, and the public with whom business is conducted.  There is no room for employees to be under-the-influence of drugs or alcohol in the workplace.


The Coates decision firmly shows that employers’ benefits and rights to offer a safe and drug free workplace are not only affirmed and validated but critical to ensuring that every individual has a right and benefit to work in a safe and drug-free environment.

View the full CO Supreme Court Opinion.”  - DATIA eNews letter 6/18/2015

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