Colorado’s Unjust Marijuana Ruling
It took the Colorado Supreme Court a year to come up with the ruling, issued on Monday, that upheld the firing of a man who used medical marijuana legally under state law to help ease the pain he has suffered since a car accident left him paralyzed. A lot of that time had to be devoted to twisting the logic behind the decision.
There has been a lot of speculation about what the ruling means for Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, and other states that have permitted the use of marijuana for medical, and in a few cases, recreational, purposes.
But really it only makes one thing clear: the only solution to the pointless and profoundly damaging marijuana prohibition in this country is a federal solution. As long as the federal government continues not only to outlaw marijuana, but to classify it as one of the most dangerous narcotics, anti-prohibition efforts in states are subject to the sort of capricious ruling issued in Colorado.
In this case, Dish Network fired a worker, Brandon Coats, in 2010 after he underwent a random drug test that showed he was using marijuana. Mr. Coats said he used the drug away from his place of employment and during his own time, and claimed protection from a state law that prohibits firing workers for conducting “any lawful activity” outside the workplace.
Marijuana was legal for medical purposes in 2010 with the proper authorization, which Mr. Coats had. But the court said the law only applied to activities that were legal under both state and federal law.
There are signs that the ice is starting to crack a bit in Washington. In June, the conservative-dominated House of Representatives voted 242-186 to prevent the federal government from blocking states that want to permit medical use of marijuana.
But the country needs a real solution on this issue and that will only come when Congress repeals the federal marijuana laws, which have no real grounding in medicine or logic, and are racist in their application – destroying the lives of millions of African-Americans while having almost no impact on white Americans, who smoke pot with the same frequency.
States could then regulate, or ban, marijuana use as they chose, and localities could refuse to permit marijuana growing or sale within their borders, as some in Colorado now do.
This should not be a partisan issue. In fact, right-wing Republicans who claim to be modern-day Federalists should lead the demand for an end to marijuana prohibition.
Brandon Coats: Photo Credit Matthew Staver for The New York Times
Original article by Andrew Rosenthal New York Times