EDITORIAL: Congress must act on anti-reefer madness after Colorado high court ruling

So Congress can either stop federal prohibition, allowing states to decide the issue for themselves, or after just a few more states allow for medical or recreational marijuana, legislatures can force changes on Congress.

The United States can either do this the easy way or the hard way when it comes to finishing the job to end the prohibition of marijuana.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that Dish Network had every right to fire an employee who failed a random drug test because he used medical marijuana, even though he was never high at work. But exercising such rights only shows how wrong the policy and the law are.

Under current state and federal law, the court ruling is right on the money. Colorado justices found that federal law outlaws the use of marijuana, and Colorado voter-initiated state constitutional amendments legalizing medical and recreational marijuana also state that businesses do not have to change drug policies to allow for employee use outside of work.

The unanimous ruling was similar to those in five other states permitting the medical use of marijuana.

There’s no question where this is going. It’s time for Congress to act now and resolve this and other pernicious issues affecting legalized marijuana in Colorado — and almost half of every other state in the country.

Currently, there are 23 states allowing for the use of medical marijuana, and more moving in that direction each year. While Colorado was the first state to permit the recreational use of marijuana, four more are there and many more are coming.

Marijuana prohibition failed to end or even really limit the consumption of pot, and now that federal ban itself is becoming increasingly irrelevant, and this case problematic.

What Colorado and other similar states have shown is that marijuana may have real health and social concerns —  as do alcohol, gambling and even obesity —  but prohibition is not the way to address those problems.

As the novelty of recreational, retail marijuana wanes here in Colorado, now more than a year after it began, it’s obvious the state hasn’t been sucked into a black hole of depravity. Sure, there are real challenges in integrating a once illegal and prohibited commodity back into society: banking, regulation, use by minors, even waste. The reality is that the marijuana changes in the state have boosted Colorado’s image as being a progressive, pragmatic state, drawing scores of new residents and businesses at an almost giddy rate. Four other states have or will join Colorado to end marijuana prohibition, and numerous more will follow.

So Congress can either stop federal prohibition, allowing states to decide the issue for themselves, or after just a few more states allow for medical or recreational marijuana, legislatures can force changes on Congress.

One of the two will and must happen.

In the mean time, companies such as Dish Network, which legally fired quadriplegic Brandon Coats from his telephone center job for failing the random pot screening, would benefit from changing their own policies to reflect Colorado’s vastly changed marijuana law and attitude. Every company should be able to insist against employees being intoxicated at work, but every company should treat marijuana the same way they treat alcoholic beverages.

Changes in federal marijuana laws won’t come fast, but that shouldn’t stop companies like Dish Network from proactively changing its policies to reflect the new reality: Quality employees may choose to use marijuana medically or recreationally, and businesses may never know that — unless they unwisely test for marijuana.

But standing idly by is nothing but this century’s refer madness.

  • Jillian Galloway

    It doesn’t make sense for the law to be okay with people using alcohol while punishing people for switching to a far less-harmful and less-addictive alternative to alcohol like marijuana. It’s like the law is trying to make people less safe and I know that’s not how we want our tax dollars spent.

    While most of us have no interest in marijuana, all of us should have a desire to reduce harm in society and for this reason we must vote to end the federal marijuana prohibition and legalize marijuana like beer and wine.

    • gofastgo

      So, you think that once marijuana is legal nation wide, people will line up to get high instead of having a beer? Correct? Ever heard of ‘gateway drug’? I’ve been there, know it to be true, no matter what the purveyors of dope say.

      • yeah me again

        alchohol is the first gateway drug though. I drank a beer first, and continued to drink for a long time. I smoked pot for maybe 2 years in college.

  • gofastgo

    ‘medical marijuana’ is a fraud! The 1% or less of the RX’s are for headaches and pains in the asses, the ‘sick little kids;’ and ‘old people in wheelchairs’ the promoters of this drug roll out upon hearing news like this, will be out once again, the grieving mothers with truly sick kids who think this drug is a cure all, are uninformed for the most part.

    I’d probably be on board with legalizing this drug if those promoting it didn’t use the backs of ‘sick little kids’ to carry their message.

    • Ben

      So relieving ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and general anger caused by your generations bad decisions don’t count as medicinal uses?

      • gofastgo

        I will say this once again, ANY medication that ANY really ‘sick’ person finds helpful, go for it. My generation certainly didn’t CAUSE any of those you listed. Not a believer of ADHD, many kids acted out of control in my day also, they straightened out with a bit of ‘time out’ and discipline. I’ll never be convinced that these are really diseases, other than post traumatic stress. As far as dope, NO.

  • Frank2525

    I would believe some folks need to connect to Live Science on Net and read the facts, laws, questions and answers about POT use, and the munchies. Although it does have medicinal effect, it is most easily abused drug of all, and in brain effects same as Opium, Morphine, and other drugs of that nature. Also natural weed used to have THC at 1-2%, now can be found on market at 12-13%, and the DVDs of Weed in Calif, Wash, and Oregon had it grown in forest illegally at 18-22%. Makes testing, and FDC approval very sketchy, and really uncontrollable as I see it. I still say, if medicinal, then should be available in pharmacies same as other drugs-under control and records, and doctor should be seeing that patient on regular basis, thus having results good and bad, to refer to and also to watch side effects. Life science report there are side effects, and also problems in youth growth and reasoning, before their 20s in using.
    Just saying. And I would not want pilot of plane, or surgeon operating on my for anything under such influence, since regular use builds up in individual. Especially with munchies, where brain is not effected as soon as in smoking. I don’t use, and never have. Smoked cigars and pipe from 1951 to 1961, quit cold turkey after creation of lost working time in shop arguing over ashes on the floor. I had to lie on records of 13 man hours on non-work, for 13 individuals, knowing we would have to attend training to better trouble-shoot and repair electronic equipment. That 13 hours had to be broken into 15 minute increments, for all 13. I was not happy camper when I departed shop that morning, after working all night from 3 PM day before, leaving at 9 AM next day. 110 degrees that morning, as I drove home, and car trying to vapor lock, and my brain churning over lost work time.

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