Unfortunately, there are many people in the world who require the aid of medications in order to live up to the standards of the everyday workplace. Many people have great success in taking these medications and then working in places and have their co-workers not even knowing that they take medications. However, what happens when you drug test someone and they test positive for something that should get them fired, yet they have a prescription saying they need it for whatever reason. Well, let us just say that a Colorado worker was not so lucky.
Thirty five year old Brandon Coats, has been quadriplegic since age sixteen, when he got into a car accident. He claims to take marijuana at home every night, as he said in an interview he was in last year. Coats claims that it helps him sleep, he wakes up with less stiffness than if he had not taken it, and he even says that it quiets his spasms all through the next day. Most are probably wondering about the side effects that come with smoking marijuana, also referred to as the “high”. Coats claims that he can sleep off the effects, and he could report to work ready the next day while the the drug continued to calm him. In 2010, Coats was chosen for a drug test. He tested positive for marijuana and he even told his boss he would, but was fired soon after for violating his organization’s anti-drug policy. When the details were looked into over the matter, it turns out that Coats’ workplace did not act beyond their capabilities, as marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and was not legalized in the state until 2012.
I find this to be a rather grey area. If a state is going to go ahead and legalize or go through the process of legalizing a very controversial drug, I feel that a workplace operating in that state should accommodate medicinal employees and slightly alter the rules for them, especially if they are good workers like Coats’ claimed to be. Worst case scenario, you can ask them for documentation regarding their ability to use it within a certain time frame. If they cannot produce such a document or a document from their physicians saying how long it will take to produce something like that, then I say it is safe to assume that they are lying and abusing the privilege that medical patients has and then you can fire them. That would be my opinion on the matter had Coats been fired after marijuana was legalized. However, unfortunately for Coats, his employer chose the other option, which was to make an absolute rule that applied to all workers, medical patients or not and I agree that they did nothing wrong in choosing that option. It is just very difficult for me to wrap my head around, maybe because I would have let Coats continue working had I been the one to make the decision. Hopefully medical marijuana patients are accounted for in the workplace in the future in Colorado and in other states where the drug is legal.