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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Colorado Supreme Court in a 6-0 decision has affirmed the rulings of lower courts that employers can fire employees for the use of off-duty medical marijuana, according to a report by The Denver Post.

The Denver Post reports that the Plaintiff in the case of Coats v. Dish Network, LLC had a medical marijuana card and consumed marijuana off-duty to control muscle spasms. He challenged the company policy of Dish Network after he was fired in 2010 for failing a drug test by claiming his use of marijuana was legal under state law even though it was illegal under federal law.

However, The Denver Post reports that the firing was upheld in both trial court and the Colorado Court of Appeals. The case questioned whether the use of medical marijuana in compliance with the Colorado Medical Marijuana Amendment was “lawful” under the state’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute.

The Denver Post reports the Colorado Supreme Court decided the term “lawful” referred to activities lawful under both state and federal law. “Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute,” Justice Allison H. Eid wrote in the opinion.

The Denver Post reports that legal observers believe the case could have significant implications for employers in Colorado who are allowed to set their own policies on drug use. A copy of the opinion by the Colorado Supreme Court in the case of Coats v. Dish Network, LLC is available at

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