Street Sweeper Fired For Being Medical Marijuana Patient


Photo: Denver Westword
Denver’s 16th Street Mall. Don’t even think about becoming a street sweeper here, if you’re a medical marijuana patient.

​Some employers have weird moral judgments when it comes to employees who use cannabis — even if that use is legal and with a doctor’s authorization. Unlike users of, say, Vicodin or Valium, medical marijuana users are deemed somehow uniquely unemployable, and/or unable to discharge their duties in an effective and responsible manner.

Never mind that they are not breaking the law; never mind that they are able to do their jobs just fine. They are summarily shit-canned the minute they are discovered, for no good reason at all.

Such is the case in a story from Colorado, where a street sweeper — a street sweeper, who literally uses a broom and a dustpan — has been fired from his job for being a medical marijuana patient, reports Michael Roberts at Denver Westword.

Photo: GazetteXtra

​Not only was Jason Beinor fired from his street-sweeping job at 16th Street Mall in Denver; the Colorado Court of Appeals then ruled that he didn’t even deserve any unemployment benefits, either, because he had used the dreaded medical marijuana.
“I believe the laws are biased against [medical]marijuana users,” Beinor wrote in an email to Westword.
Beinor got his medical cannabis authorization due to severe headaches, and he says marijuana has had an enormous positive impact on his life.
“I believe in the benefits of MMJ [medical marijuana]in my own life,” he said. “I’ve lost weight, stopped abusing alcohol, reconnected with my family and community.”
But Service Group, Inc., which hired Beinor to sweep the mall, didn’t care about any of that. All they cared about was the fact that Beinor failed a random drug test in February 2010. He was immediately fired by SGI, due to its “zero-tolernace” policy when it comes to “illegal substances” — even though the marijuana Beinor was using isn’t illegal under Colorado law.
The initial denial of his unemployment benefits was later reversed by a hearing officer, who found Beinor wasn’t at fault for losing his job because there was “no reliable evidence to suggest that… claimant was not eligible for a medical marijuana license” or that his use of cannabis negatively impacted his job performance — which SGI did not dispute.
“Claimant has a state constitutional right to use marijuana,” the hearing officer wrote.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. After Beinor began receiving unemployment benefits that eventually totaled about $1,500, SGI appealed the decision, and a panel set aside the hearing order, ruling in favor of SGI on a two-to-one decision.
According to the majority opinion from Judge David Richman with Judge David Furman concurring, doctors in Colorado aren’t able to “prescribe” marijuana, due to Schedule I restrictions of the federal Controlled Substances Act — they can just “recommend” it, a key distinction under the law.
You can read the entire Colorado Court of Appeals decision [PDF], as well as the rest of Beinor’s story, at Denver Westword.