FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NORML response to the Coats v. Dish Network decision upholding random employee drug testing for marijuana
The Colorado Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) issues the following statement in response to the Colorado Supreme Court decision today in Coates v. Dish Network, LLC:
Drug testing of applicants or employees for marijuana use is bad for business. Commercial drug tests do not measure impairment or job performance. The Colorado workforce today includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats who use marijuana legally for medicine or as their recreational drug of choice and are not impaired on the job.
Employers should hire or retain qualified people on merit, not the presence of trace metabolites in their bodily fluids. If any testing is to be done for risk management, NORML urges Colorado employers to use currently-available impairment testing based upon reasonable suspicion that are specific for the job description.
Colorado law provides that it is a discriminatory or unfair employment practice to terminate an employee for lawful activity during nonworking hours. Marijuana is legal in Colorado for both medicinal and recreational use under our Constitution. The Supreme Court unfortunately did not respect the will of Colorado voters. Until federal law is changed, it will be up to the Colorado legislature or local governments to act to protect otherwise law-abiding citizens who use marijuana.
Since 1989, the City of Boulder has banned random drug testing by private employers. Testing can only be done for finalist candidates, or if there is individualized reasonable suspicion, based on specific, objective, clearly expressed facts, to believe that the employee is under the influence on the job, or his or her job performance is currently adversely affected. A state law such as this, with an added requirement for actual impairment testing, would protect Colorado workers from discrimination based upon their lawful off-job use of marijuana.
Rachel K. Gillette, Esq., Executive Director, 303-665-0860