Court should reject ‘right’ to marijuana

The Colorado Supreme Court announced Monday it will take up the case of a quadriplegic man who was fired from his job for using medical marijuana in his off-duty hours, and it will use that case to determine whether Coloradans have a constitutional right to use medical marijuana that supersedes employment law.

Finding a “right” to use medical marijuana would be a mistake. It would put medical pot in a class by itself. There is no constitutional right to use alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs.

The 2000 constitutional amendment that approved the use of medical marijuana in the state did not describe the ability to obtain medical pot as a right. The measure was primarily a defense against criminal prosecution for marijuana possession. The 2012 ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana use also did not create such a right.

In 2011 the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled there was no constitutional right to medical marijuana. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the case.

This is not to say that employers shouldn’t make some accommodation for workers who use medical marijuana in their off-hours to alleviate the effects of an affliction — so long as those employees aren’t engaged in dangerous or difficult jobs such as operating heavy equipment, in which latent marijuana intoxication could be problematic.

Employers should be the ones to make those decisions.

The Supreme Court case will be an important one, both for employers and for those who find medical marijuana beneficial. We hope the court finds a sensible way to clarify the issue.


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