Can You Get Fired for Smoking Legal Weed?
Let’s say you’re a person who smokes weed. Maybe you live in California, Massachusetts, Nevada, or Maine—one of the four states that legalized recreational marijuana this month, or the four others where it was already legal. Or maybe you have a prescription to use weed for insomnia, or back pain, or chronic illness, in one of the 28 states with medical marijuana policy on the books. Maybe you roll your own joints; maybe you use a bong. It doesn’t really matter.
Now let’s say you, a person who smokes weed, are applying for a new job. There’s the usual rigmarole—the sending of your résumé, the interview, the formal offer letter. And then the drug test. It seems old-fashioned, but more than half of all employers still ask new hires to pee in a cup to test for narcotics, amphetamines, and yes, marijuana.
You might think this is unfair. You might even think it’s illegal, since you and the other people in your state exercised your democratic rights to legalize marijuana where you live. That’s what Brandon Coats thought when he was fired from his customer service representative job at Dish Networks for failing a random drug test. Coats had a license and a prescription to use medicinal marijuana. So when he got fired, he was confused: Medical marijuana had been legal in Colorado since 2000. How could his company fire him for doing something totally legal?