Medical-marijuana users on uncertain ground in workplaces |

Medical-marijuana users on uncertain ground in workplaces

John IngoldThe Denver Post
POTSMOKE14-- Jack Branson smokes marijuana legally at his home, Friday, in Thornton. Branson, has AIDS and for medicinal purposes, is aloud to smoke marijuana. Recently he was charged with felony cultivation and possession with intent to distribute after North Metro Drug Task Force found about a dozen marijuana plants growing in the backyard. This was over the amount that he was aloud to grow legally for himself. RJ Sangosti/ The Denver Post

Last year, Dorian Beth Wenzel, a Manitou Springs writer and arthritis sufferer, penned a letter to a local newspaper that disclosed her status as a medical-marijuana patient.The paper printed the letter, and soon afterward Wenzel found herself face-to-face with the human-resources director of the nonprofit organization she works for. Wenzel’s office, her HR director told her, is a drug-free workplace.”It is kind of scary when your HR department is telling you that you could be fired,” Wenzel said. “And it’s like, ‘Why?’ “To Colorado’s already-vexing cannabis conundrum, add yet another riddle: Are medical-marijuana patients protected from discipline under their employers’ anti-drug policies?In the past week, two other stories that pose such a question have emerged:• In the first, an Idaho Springs high school teacher and football coach resigned from the school after being charged with smoking marijuana on school grounds, even though he said he was a legal patient.• The second involves a Denver city employee who failed a routine drug test taken after an on-duty car accident. The employee said medical-marijuana use accounted for the positive test.Can an employer punish someone for doing something that is constitutionally protected?”This issue is up in the air right now,” said Vance Knapp, a Denver lawyer with Sherman & Howard who deals in employment law. “It hasn’t been litigated through the courts.”Read more:

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