The court ruled against Brandon Coats in a unanimous opinion on Monday, the Associated Press, the Denver Post, the New York Times and the Washington Post report.

The lawful activities law generally makes it an unfair and discriminatory labor practice to fire employees based on lawful activities outside of work. Workers fired in violation of the law can sue for civil damages.

Coats, a telephone customer representative for Dish, used medical marijuana to calm muscle spasms caused by his quadriplegia. He was fired in June 2010, a month after testing positive for a chemical in marijuana in a random drug test.

Coats had argued he couldn’t be fired because medical pot was lawful under state law. The Colorado Supreme Court disagreed. Because use of medical marijuana is prohibited by federal law, Coats is not protected, the court said.

Colorado has also legalized recreational use of marijuana, one of four states to do so. According to the Times, the case is “at the vanguard of lawsuits testing the limits of marijuana legalization.”

Adam Lee Nemann
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Trial and Defense Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Law at Capital University, founder of Nemann Law Offices

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