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Med. marijuana patient loses street-sweeping job, benefits, court case after failing drug test

Categories: Marijuana

Thumbnail image for drawing blood.jpg
Jason Beinor is a legal medical marijuana patient. But that didn't prevent his firing as a street sweeper on the 16th Street Mall after registering a positive in a random blood test -- and neither did it convince the Colorado Court of Appeals that he deserved unemployment benefits following his termination. What's Beinor's take on the case, which has major implications for Colorado's 100,000-plus MMJ card holders?

"I believe the laws are biased against [medical] marijuana users," he notes via e-mail. "However, they are the LAW written by an elected government."

Beinor became a medical marijuana patient to deal with severe headaches, and he raves about the positive impact cannabis has had on him. "I believe in the benefits of MMJ in my own life," he stresses. "I've lost weight, stopped abusing alcohol, reconnected with my family and community."

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Denver's 16th Street Mall.
None of this mattered to Service Group, Inc., the company that employed him to sweep Denver's 16th Street Mall using a broom and dustpan. Beinor failed a random drug test in February 2010 and was promptly fired due to SGI's zero-tolerance policy when it comes to marijuana and other illegal substances.

Afterward, Beinor filed for unemployment benefits -- and while his claim was initially denied, according to the August 18 Colorado Court of Appeals ruling on view below, a hearing officer later reversed that decision. He found Beinor wasn't at fault for losing his job because there was "no reliable evidence to suggest that... claimant was not eligible for a medical marijuana license" or that his use of the marijuana negatively impacted his job performance -- a determination SGI didn't dispute. And besides, the hearing officer wrote, "Claimant has a state constitutional right to use marijuana."

Thanks to this decision, Beinor began receiving unemployment benefits that eventually totaled around $1,500. But SGI appealed the decision, and a panel set aside the hearing officer's order under Article XVIII of the Colorado constitution, which states that an employee who tests positive during working hours for "controlled substances" that are "not medically prescribed" doesn't qualify for benefits.

In this hearing and two others, including the one before the Colorado Court of Appeals, Beinor represented himself. "If I was intent on winning the State Appeals case, I should have gotten a lawyer," he concedes. "I never really thought I would win this case, though."

He was right. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of SGI by a two-to-one margin. Judge David Richman, who wrote the majority opinion to which Judge David Furman concurred, held that doctors in Colorado aren't able to prescribe marijuana, just recommend it -- and the distinction is key. Moreover, Richman determined that the "Colorado constitution does not give medical marijuana users the unfettered right to violate employers' policies and practices regarding use of controlled substances" despite the amendment that legalized medical use of a product that's still illegal at the federal level.

Judge Richard Gabriel saw things differently. In his view, patients are forbidden to use cannabis at their workplace, but "I am not persuaded that the presence of medical marijuana in one's blood amounts to either 'use,' which I believe connotes contemporaneous consumption, or 'possession,' which I interpret as holding at one's disposal, within the meaning of the above-quoted definition. If it did, then under a zero-tolerance policy like that at issue here, many patients who are eligible to use medical marijuana would likely abandon their right to do so, because even lawful use at home would put their benefits, and perhaps even their jobs, at risk."

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An image from the Service Group Inc. website.
All true, in Benior's view. "Because marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance and is so illegal at the federal level that even a doctor is not allowed to prescribe it, employers can terminate anybody who test positive for marijuana even if they have a certificate from the state allowing them to use MMJ," he points out. "After being terminated, you will not receive unemployment benefits. Most working people understand this."

Not that he feels such rules are just. "It would be very easy for the U.S. Congress to reschedule marijuana and allow doctors to prescribe this medicine," he believes. "However, Congress has no will to do this. Many petitions have been submitted to Congress for the reschedule of marijuana; they simply refuse to do it. I can only speculate as to their reasons. Alcohol was made legal by an amendment to the Constitution. Maybe MMJ needs to be put into the U.S. Constitution as well."

Right now, Beinor is upbeat about his life. "I'm working again," he reveals -- and he also received a waiver stating that he doesn't have to pay back the $1,500 in unemployment benefits he received following his first appeal. As such, he's able to keep the appeals court decision in perspective.

"My case before the state did nothing to change the status of MMJ as it relates to the denial of unemployment benefits," he acknowledges. "The state court simply upheld the policy of the ICAO" -- the Industrial Claim Appeals Office, one of the targets, along with Service Group, Inc., of his complaint. "What the ICAO and SGI and the state appeals court did was entirely justified by laws written by Colorado representatives.

"Before my case, a claimant couldn't receieve UI benefits after being terminated for marijuana, and after my case the same is true. If I thought I could have won and overturned the decision allowing MMJ patients to receive UI benefits, I would have done everthing in power to do so. My case was pretty flimsy, though, and I didn't think it could sway a high court away from its accepted policy of denial of benefits for MMJ patients."

Page down to read the Colorado Court of Appeals decision, which can also be accessed by clicking here.



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40 comments
sevenearth
sevenearth

Forget about all kind of lost and win stuff and just think for cannabis and marijuana highs and buy drugs for that from given below site name please go on legal-highs !!!!    

sevenearth
sevenearth

Forget about all kind of lost and win stuff and just think for cannabis and marijuana highs and buy drugs for that from given below site name please go on legal-highs !!!!     

Watch it!!!
Watch it!!!

Forget about all kind of lost and win; just think for cannabis and marijuana highs and buy drugs for that from given below site name please go on legal-highs !!!!    

Sean
Sean

Thank you for your passionate response Coloradoshu. I couldn't agree more. Here we are finding out that not only does cannabis help people with pain but its also proving to be a neuroprotectant and anti-cancer!!!  And its still getting this kind of court response?!!  Those of you that smoke or consume cannabis in private need to step forward and let your state know you disapprove.

Just a powewasher
Just a powewasher

Truth be told, I really could give two shits about "dirt"... what I care about is truth, and accuracy, in reporting.  One side of the story, as what was presented here, will always look to favorable extreme.  Why was SGI never asked for a comment?  There is always middle ground in every story.  I also like how you state you were only a pan and broomer, yet you just stated that you were promoted.  The only promotion I can think of is a promotion to a driver.  Also, I would like to point out, just because you think you were never caught, doesn't mean that you were never caught.  Also, how many extra breaks were you taking?  Especially during snow removal.  You could not even upkeep a single block during a light storm.  Nobody told our supervisors becase at 9 bucks an hour, no one really gives a flying F.  I also do, very distinctly, remember watching you leave the dispensary on block 5 during working hours, not during an assigined break time.  What is this tragedy you speak of?

Just a powewasher
Just a powewasher

I worked at SGI for a couple of years, and I did work with Jason, and Jason and I would always talk to one another, and his conversations would always tie into MMJ someway or another. He would talk about it 24/7 there. Every single employee there is hired as a driver, SGI does not hire pan and broomers only.  The anti-drug policy was there long before Jason was hired at SGI, and he knew he was breaking the rules.  The rules are there for a reason, it is a dangerous job due to the shuttles and general interaction with the public.  SGI falls under federal guidelines due to working and driving in such proximity to Public Transportation.  What Jason or the reporter (conviently) left out was he was constantly late to work, never could finish a task on time, and the big one, he was smoking his medicine on the job.  This is why he was asked to take a DT, so they would not have to pay for his unemployment, due to him smoking on the job.

Michelle LaMay
Michelle LaMay

Now, if we had one more Colorado appellate Judge like Richard Gabriel!

Forestgump
Forestgump

The problem here is that the language in A20 (out of state written and funded) was too "grey" and can be misinterpreted too easily.

The SAME authors and financiers wrote the SAFER/Sensible/MPP/DPA/NORML language being circulated now in CO under the fake  "legalize if like alcohol"  that enshrines DUI marijuana into our constitution, unlike ALL DUI being in state statute.  The constitution clarifies rights we the people have that are protected FROM the government, not rules and regs for we the people need to abide by.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

  Hiding behind the "it's illegal federally" is complete bullshit, along with the "prescribed vs. recommended."  If doctors could prescribe it, they would.  The recommendation is basically a prescription in this state.  They only reason they can't prescribe it is because of fear of losing their DEA license.  If he would have had the money to hire an attorney, this case could have been different.  Unfortunately, it has set a precedent.  We really need a test to determine on the spot impairment.    

Itsallgoodjoe9
Itsallgoodjoe9

It does not matter what the voters approved, you will always have these puppets of the Corporate Devil calling the shots. Democracy is dead in America, in case you have not noticed !

jenniferLy
jenniferLy

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from : http://BidsBit.com

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

Dear Mr. Gallagher,

I am writing to you regarding the following articles in the Denver Westword News, which can be found here:

http://blogs.westword.com/late...http://blogs.westword.com/late...

Realizing your time is valuable, and this may not be a top priority for you, it may be benificial to your firm and it's numerous employees in Colorado, as well as California, to take a few moments, read the above articles, and consider the following:

The first article clearly shows that you are on solid legal grounds with regards to this issue, however, we all know that at times the law does not necessarily reflect reality. The second article clearly shows, in a clinical test, that the use of medical marijuana does not constitute impairment, and that is the reality.

Obviously Mr. Beinor's life has been turned upside-down because of this, but beyond that, how many of your employees now needlessly live in fear of using the medication they need. I think if the truth be told, you would be amazed at how many of your employees, including upper level management, are MMJ patients that haven't been caught.

Hopefully you will revise your policy on medical marijuana, and re-instate Mr. Beinor's status as the valued employee he obviously was. Your reply in the comments area of the first article is both anticipated and appreciated.

Sincerely,

LarryQ5

sent 08/23 at 8:53 pm

New World Odor
New World Odor

I hold Rob Kampia of Marijuana Policy Project personally responsible for every patient under attack in Colorado right now. MPP wrote and funded Amendment 20, with money from George Soros. The amendment was so poorly written that now it is being used to attack and persecute patients all over the country. Good work, MPP! Now you have your eyes set on our Constitution again, this time you want to hand the reins of ALL mj in Colorado to the Dept. of Revenue pot police.Another poorly-written law brought to us by  MPP, SAFER, Sensible, NORML and DPA. Once they finish destroying our constitution and giving control over all pot to the police, do you think we'll have a SAFER world? Or are we going to see more harassment of the "bad" pot smokers, the ones that won't comply with your new police state?

Pete
Pete

What's frightening about this to me is the notion that there are people out there sweeping streets that are not stoned.  Seems wrong.

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

While we all realize that a broom careening out of controll can be a life threatening event, we can also send an email to Dick Gallagher, Founder and CEO of  SGI and tell him here in Colorado we are willing to take that risk. his address is

rgallagher@servicgroupinc.com

It would be interesting to know when their contract is up, and to beat all, they're aren't even a Colorado Company, they are based in PA! Now tell me there aren't any companies in Colorado that sweep streets.

Now, who is responsible for hiring these guys? Obviously no one that cares about keeping business in Colorado. With elections comming up, it might be nice to know who is responsible.

Grass roots baby, my letter is being composed and will go out later today......

  

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

It goes to show the only thing your medical marijuana card is really good for is buying weed at dispensaries if you're into that sort of thing.  People, don't give up your freedom with false hopes like this man did, throw that piece of garbage card in the fire and tell the state to pack it up and smoke it out their own ass.  medical marijuana card = more trouble than it's worth PERIOD

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

A guy can be fired for sweeping the streets because he is a MMJ patient.  And the State of Colorado agrees.  How much clearer can it be the State does not give a shit about MMJ patients, they don't give a shit about you, but keep believing everything they are doing is for your benefit.

Jason Beinor
Jason Beinor

In the appeal I proved that I had zero write-ups. I was also promoted during my short time at SGI. I was never late for work and took only one sick day.  I was never caught using my medication during working hours and was always capable of completing my duties. You are a liar! You sound a lot like Ms. Reed (ex-SGI manager) who tried to slander my name with false accusations. I haven't seen her on the mall lately. If you've got something to say to ME why don't you say it to my face?Tell me about those talks we had at SGI please. You must have been glad to get some dirt on a co-worker. That's probably how you get your thrills.  

gotta get right
gotta get right

thats a great expose, it really shows the depth to which people have had to stoop in order to use a substance that has never killed anyone, helps them to feel and express emotions, and grows everywhere in the world! (alaska thunderfu+ck). What a travesty that someone with enough literacy to represent himself in Appelate court would be street sweeping at all!  This case shows what has happened to the american working class, and it's not the drugs!  it might be the corporate lobbyists, pushing synthetic heroin, or even the phenalalanine(prozac-wiki it) in our sodas but it ain't the herb mon.

Guest
Guest

If only what you said was actually true, I would believe your conspiracy.

Jason Beinor
Jason Beinor

Thanks for the letter LarryQ5. I appreciate the sentiment. Send me an e-mail or facebook.

Sorry everyone.  I didn't put everything I had into the last appeal. The ICAO had beaten me pretty bad. At least they opened a law book. I also needed a lawyer to introduce my evidence in a proper manner for a high court. I had spent a lot of time and it really vexes me to think about the state of MMJ laws. I'm just glad to have good medicine. MN didn't have medical cannabis or ballet measures. Legally I'm a bit limited but my migraines are gone and that matters a lot. I should have gotten an expert to analyze my Urinalysis test report and explain what the results really meant.  The three judges would have had to answer my questions regarding the alleged 20ng/ml of cannaba-whoosits. in my wastes.Don't feel bad for me. I actually did well on this thing as it pertains to my finacial goals and I have the thrill of winning an unemployment hearing. The State of CO had told me to refile my paperwork for this last case and I never did. They didn't even send me a copy of the decision. I also skipped the final brief. If I would have read the ICAO decision thouroughly (which I didn't) my strategy = better.  That ICAO decision was hard to read because its very critical and it picks my strategy apart. And that reminds me of losing at starcraft and that's terrible to the ego. It also makes my thirsty. SGI seems like ancient history to me. I still have friends there. They've got problems like any other company. And I guess the mother company is as big as Microsoft. By the way Larry,  they are the only company that provides the sweeping , snow-removal- ambassador services- mall maintence service in Colorado. They do like to sharp shoot though and can be venomous little vipers. Thanks again everyone. I have no plans to take this to the supreme court. Lawyers have offered. Its not the case though. Another claiment will come along just don't let it be YOU.

Guest
Guest

New World Order - Check your facts. MPP didn't write or fund Amendment 20. Check out their accomplishments. They probably would of taken credit for it if they did it. http://www.mpp.org/about/histo... 

Jeromejohngarcia423
Jeromejohngarcia423

You sound like Laura Khiro of Cannabis Therapy Institute. She believes in all the stuff you said. Google her website its called levellers.org or something like that.

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

It should be a prerequisite to fend off boredom and promote proper concentration.

Kim S
Kim S

I was also wondering who is responsible for hiring this out of state company. I think it's the Downtown Denver Partnership... anybody know for sure?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

A letter to Mr. Gallagher is appropriate, but loud, repeated mass demonstrations calling for a boycott of Mall merchants would be a more effective means of communication.

Erock103
Erock103

they do things for the benifit of corporations...not citizens

Old Hippie
Old Hippie

Agreed. Clearly a "drug user" shouldn't have access to brooms for the safety of the public LOL.

Just a powewasher
Just a powewasher

So do you think it is ok for someone who drives on the 16th street mall to be high?

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Jerome just because you don't like what Laura says or does, does not mean she is wrong.  Maybe you should waste your breath and words fighting the system that is oppressing cannabis users instead of kowtowing to it.  Oh and what have you done Jerome to help end the war on cannabis?

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

That and perhaps some demonstrating "flash mobs"

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

I did, and saw some asshole looking over my shoulder.....

Old Hippie
Old Hippie

Since you read these comments, I just thought I'd say how impressed I was at all the detail and background in your article. Nugs and hugs, Old Hippie

Jason Beinor
Jason Beinor

So what are those federal guidelines you refer to you? In the hearing SGI manager Lynn Reed admits they only use a partial DOT certification. The only part SGI uses is the Drug test. There is no medical test, no VISION test, and they didn't even need an MVR when I was hired.I also was not required (according to an SGI written handbook) to disclose prescriptions unless I was driving company vehicles so I. I never was asked to drive and I, in turn, asked for more responsibilities after the tragedy that took a member of my crew. Not that I had a crew. just a hopeless alcoholic boss who wouldn't stick his neck out for anything and didn't give two sh#ts about anyone but his little jr.

Guest
Guest

Nope. Laura is wrong because she is in fact wrong. MPP didn't write Amendment 20. Sensible and Safer did not exist when Amendment 20 was passed. 

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