THE BLOG
09/01/2010 02:56 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Getting Fired for Using (Legal?) Medical Marijuana

You thought your medical marijuana (MMJ) card made it legal for you to smoke or ingest THC? Not really -- you can still get fired in Colorado if you fail a drug test.

Colorado passed an amendment to the state Constitution, making MMJ legal. But employers are saying that their drug policies trump Colorado law.

Would an employer be able to claim that you can get fired for having blood pressure medication in your system, or a blood thinner? Not likely.

Employers are saying "You can't come to work impaired." Forget the fact that there's no legal definition for impairment, where THC is concerned. You took a drug that was distributed to you legally, and you're fired.

I can see employers wanting to keep a workplace as safe as it could be. (Although now that I think about it, I've never heard of a workplace violence incident involving a stoner.) People driving heavy equipment shouldn't be baked on the job. But people answering the phones? You can have a drink at lunch. Employers won't fire you for that. But you can be fired for having THC in your system, no matter that you got it from a licensed MMJ dispensary and by virtue of your MMJ card. Pot is still scary and evil for a lot of people, compared to Valium, Percoset, Vicodin, Oxycontin and a lot of other nasty, complicated drugs.

There's a federal law that is in place to protect people with illnesses and disabilities. It's called the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. The law has been in place for decades. Too bad for MMJ users -- Colorado employers are claiming their pot policies don't have to allow for MMJ use. Would Percoset, Vicodin or Valium impair you on the job? I'm thinking it would. Those drugs are okay, though. Pot? Different story.

This Denver Post editorial argues for giving employers total latitude when deciding whether legal MMJ users can be fired, or not. That's ridiculous. Do employers have latitude to decide whether or not to fire people who use other legal medications on the job? They're supposed to accommodate people with disabilities.

Isn't it time to lose the Reefer Madness paranoia?