Colorado’s medical marijuana rules are clear in Amendment 20, the amendment added to the Colorado Constitution in 2000 that allows for the state level use of medical marijuana, with regards to dispensaries and registered MMJ users. But unfortunately those rules and rights to use do not extend into the workplace creating an unusual loophole and danger for some employees, including Paul Curry, a recently fired maintenance mechanic at MillerCoors in Golden, as 9News reports.
Curry discovered first hand that if tested positive for marijuana on the job, employees run the risk of still being fired -- even if they are registered with the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry.
Curry had been on the Registry for about a year, according to 9News who also spoke with Curry’s attorney Rob Corry:
All he had was one single positive UA for THC which means that he had used marijuana in that last 30 days. That's all it means. He's a medical marijuana patient. He's trying to follow his doctor's orders, and he's trying to do everything he can to manage his [pain].
Corry and Curry go on to state in the 9News report that Curry was not even “high” when the test was administered nor had pot usage interfered with his job performance. Curry was simply taking a proper dosage of medicine that was prescribed to him not unlike many employees who take medication daily for any number of ailments.
But the inconsistencies in pot law and what user’s rights are don’t stop there, federally, the state’s burgeoning pot industry is clearly operating outside the federal law.
However, as The Denver Post reports, federal prosecutors spend very few resources on prosecution of any marijuana crimes and any threat of pursuing medical marijuana activities is mostly seen as empty rhetoric.
But, one thing is very clear, the U.S. Attorney’s Office does not intend to prosecute individual users. The Denver Post spoke with Jeff Dorschner, a spokesperson for U.S. Attorney John Walsh:
The U.S. attorney's office focuses on large-scale drug traffickers, large-scale marijuana growers. It is not the U.S. attorney's office's intent to prosecute an individual user or an individual caregiver providing for an individual user.
Amendment 20 does not help Curry’s cause much either, especially section 10 B which superficially addresses workplace rules with regards to medical marijuana usage and has been interpreted by some as grounds for legal termination of employees that are tested and found to have traces of THC in their blood. Section 10 B of the Amendment reads:
Nothing in this section shall require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any work place.
Although pot advocates have seen tremendous steps forward legislatively in the last year and with plans to set the stage in Colorado for full legalization in 2012, they still have their work cut out for them to tie up all these loopholes and protect legal users.
To read the full text of Amendment 20 in the Colorado State Constitution, click here.