Marijuana: Paralyzed MMJ patient plans Supreme Court appeal over DISH sacking

brandon coats 205x205.jpg
Photos, documents below.
Last year, Brandon Coats, a paralyzed medical marijuana patient fired by DISH for failing a drug test, filed a complaint over the issue in Arapahoe District Court. When he lost there, attorney Michael Evans brought the case to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Now, those jurists have also rejected Coats's argument. But Evans says he and Coats aren't done fighting.

Next hoped-for stop: the Colorado Supreme Court. Details and documents below.

As we've reported, Coats, who's in his thirties, is paralyzed over 80 percent of his body. At age sixteen, he was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed into a tree.

Since then, Coats has used a wheelchair to get around, but he's fully capable of working -- and in 2007, he was hired by DISH as a customer service representative. Over the years that followed, his original lawsuit contends that prescription medicine Coats took to treat involuntary muscle spasms began to fail. When searching for a way to deal with these symptoms, his physicians recommended that he supplement his regimen with medical marijuana. He received his state-issued license for MMJ in August 2009 and found that cannabis helped alleviate his spasms. However, the complaint stresses that he never used marijuana at work, during work hours or anywhere on the company's premises.

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Brandon Coats.
In May 2010, Coats was ordered to take a random drug test. He's said to have told the employee administering the test that he was an MMJ patient, but this wasn't taken into account when he registered a positive for THC. The agent who broke the news allegedly told him that his status as a patient didn't matter: "That is just Colorado state law and does not apply to your job." Two weeks later, Coats was fired for violating the company's drug policy.

Evans took DISH to court, arguing that Coats's activities were constitutionally protected. But in February 2012, Araphaoe District Judge Elizabeth Beebe Volz granted DISH's motion to dismiss. Among the cases she cited to justify this ruling was one involving Jason Beinor, a medical marijuana patient sacked from his street sweeping job after failing a drug test.

As we've noted, the elements of the Coats and Beinor matters aren't identical; the latter dealt with an unemployment benefit claim, not his firing. Yet Volz described the circumstances as "substantially similar," and she noted that the Beinor finding came up in a Court of Appeals opinion in a subsequent matter, People v. Watkins; that dispute involved an MMJ patient on probation who was told he couldn't medicate without violating his parole.

After more judicial machinations, the Coats case reached the Colorado Court of Appeals. But in a 2-1 decision, the court sided with DISH. The majority decision, written by Judge Janice Davidson and on view below in its entirety, is summarized like so:

The primary question before us is whether federally prohibited but state-licensed medical marijuana use is "lawful activity" under section 24-34-402.5, C.R.S. 2012, Colorado's Lawful Activities Statute. If it is, employers in Colorado would be effectively prohibited from discharging an employee for off-the-job use of medical marijuana, regardless that such use was in violation of federal law. We conclude, on reasoning different from the trial court's analysis, that such use is not "lawful activity."
The bottom line: Because marijuana remains against federal law, employers can use that standard rather than state law as a rationale for banning worker use even off the job.

Judge John Webb dissented to the ruling, writing, "In my view, 'lawful activity' under section 24-34-402.5, C.R.S. 2012, Colorado's off-duty conduct statute, should be measured by state law. I further conclude that use of marijuana in a manner permitted by the Medical Marijuana Amendment, Colo. Const. art. XVIII, § 14 (MMA), is lawful." But this opinion didn't sway his colleagues.

Evans's take?

Continue for more about the Brandon Coats ruling, including the complete decision.


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16 comments
RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Boycott the Dish Network!  If you disagree with employers discriminating against patients, make the acquaintance of neighbors who have Dish Network dishes -- many of them use cannabis, and many of them would not want to do business with companies like Dish!

bugsycook
bugsycook

The Dish has to be the WORST company to EVER work for! They treat their employees extremely poor, that is why they constantly have job ads because they have extremely high turn over. On top of that they harrass the living daylights out of those employees that decide to stick it out, you would think they would treat these dedictaed employees better! Most people just quit and walk out on them!

KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

God help us don't appeal this!  This bad case law is bad enough, we don't need a state of federal ruling notching up the loss.  This isn't your loss--this is everyone nationwide in medical states loss.  No one has a constitutional right to MMJ--the courts ruled that in Beinor and Watkins.  Why give them more?  Great now 3 confirming sets of BAD case law.  

This attorney conceded that federal law trumps state mmj laws when this appeal was made so they were never gonna win.  They needed to argue that federal law does not trump state law when it comes SPECIFICALLY to medical marijuana.  The CSA exempted state regulated medical marijuana.  The feds do not control on MMJ and no higher court in the country has ruled so.  There is an AZ case being appealed right now that will hopefully be argued correctly. 


Please--for everyone's SAKE--do not APPEAL--you blew it by not entering a winning argument in the court of appeals.  You had your opportunity and your attorney blew it.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

=> NewsFlash - Lyin Brian Vicente and Mendacious Mason Tvert get CALLED OUT on their LIES behind A64!


Legislators drafting a Repeal of A64 if the LIES about $40 MILLION in Taxes aren't made good !!

The campaign behind Amendment 64 has called a news conference Friday morning to decry what they say is an effort to repeal the marijuana-legalization measure.

In a news release sent early Friday, Mason Tvert, one of the amendment's authors, said "numerous" lawmakers are secretly considering putting a measure before voters that would repeal marijuana legalization in Colorado if voters don't pass a separate measure on marijuana taxes this November

Lawmakers have expressed worry over the fate of the tax plan, which could generate tens of millions of dollars annually, most of which would be used to regulate recreational marijuana businesses. If voters don't pass the tax plan, the fear goes, marijuana regulations will be underfunded and ineffective.

"Without this measure, we won't be able to implement a model that will ensure our communities can be kept safe," Rep. Jonathan Singer, the Longmont Democrat sponsoring the bill, House Bill 1318, said during its committee hearing Thursday.


http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23112951/colorado-marijuana-legalization-backers-say-repeal-effort-is

Better idea ... any tax shortfall from the $40 MILLION ANNUAL that Vicente and Tvert baited the votes with should come DIRECTLY FROM THEM and the other authors and promoters of that festering turd.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

If I only had a dime ... or an eighth ... for every story lead that Westweed borrowed from me ... O' what a wealthy Ass I would be ...

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase

A64(6) Employers, driving, minors and control of property.

             (a) NOTHING IN THIS SECTION IS INTENDED TO REQUIRE AN EMPLOYER TO PERMIT OR ACCOMMODATE THE USE, CONSUMPTION, POSSESSION, TRANSFER, DISPLAY, TRANSPORTATION, SALE OR GROWING OF MARIJUANA IN THE WORKPLACE OR TO AFFECT THE ABILITY OF EMPLOYERS TO HAVE POLICIES RESTRICTING THE USE OF MARIJUANA BY EMPLOYEES..

A20: (a) No governmental, private, or any other health insurance provider shall be required to be liable for any claim for reimbursement for the medical use of marijuana. 

(b) Nothing in this section shall require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any work place.

instntkrma
instntkrma

@KathleenChippi let's get federal law changed. That will change the game as far as rights go. I'm surprised this vote was so close. At least it shows the court was fairly divided. 

dnell
dnell

@DonkeyHotay

"f I only had a dime ... or an eighth ... for every story lead that Westweed borrowed from me ... O' what a wealthy Ass I would be ..."

Delusions of internet self-grandeur much? You should probably bring this up with your therapist next week.

CoreyDonahue
CoreyDonahue

@DonkeyHotay borrowed?  Fuck stole.  The Wastword and Village Voice Media is chalked full of blogers who could not report the news if it was smacking them in the face.  Oh and did you see our boy Dr. Thurston was mentioned in the Federal Governments 2013 Drug stratitagy, wonder if that had any thing to do with the closed door meeting betweent he Feds and Nixonlooper?  But I am sure it is much more interesting to the people to know a girl stuffed cannabis up her cooter.

BlahBlah
BlahBlah

"A64 blah blah..."

Absolutely irrelevant to this case..

"...in any work place."

Means ACTIVELY USING IN THE WORKPLACE, which was not a factor in this case.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@instntkrma 

A64: "OR TO AFFECT THE ABILITY OF EMPLOYERS TO HAVE POLICIES RESTRICTING THE USE OF MARIJUANA BY EMPLOYEES."

This is the STATE CONSTITUTIONAL Law ignorant bong-sucking imbeciles like YOU voted for ... because you were too fucking stupid to read, much less comprehend what A64 proposed.

You have NO RIGHTS to use Marijuana because A64 granted NO RIGHTS.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@dnell

Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.

instntkrma
instntkrma

@DonkeyHotay this will change soon when Congress moves to protect states with medical /  rec mj laws. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@BlahBlah ... the Colorado Court of Appeals says you're an IDIOT ... which is true, ipso facto.

"OR TO AFFECT THE ABILITY OF EMPLOYERS TO HAVE POLICIES RESTRICTING THE USE OF MARIJUANA BY EMPLOYEES."

You ignorant fucktards VOTED FOR THIS Bullshit, now bend over and receive the FIST of REGULATION that you myopically begged for!


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