The state of Colorado is denying death benefits to the wife of a man who died on the job because he had traces of weed in his system.
Adam Lee, 40, worked as an electrician at the Loveland Ski Park. In December 2017, Lee was trying to fix a malfunctioning ski escalator called the “Magic Carpet” when it collapsed. He suffered a crushing chest injury.
In an interview with Contact7, Lee’s wife Erika described how Adam got caught in the belt of the escalator. Unaware of what was happening when the escalator stalled, other workers kept starting it again, crushing Adam seven more times.
However, the toxicology report is unable to determine whether Lee was under the influence of cannabis when he died.
Colorado law permits state workers' compensation companies to cut benefits by 50 percent if tests show positive for cannabis or any other controlled substance.
“I'm scared, and I have no idea how we are going to make it,” Erika, told the Denver Channel. 'We don't know if we will get any money, so I'm just looking now at how to survive.”
The grieving widow seemed stunned at the decision to cut her husband’s insurance benefits. “I’m frustrated with the system that is saying because he smoked a legal substance, we are going to take away your benefits from you and your kids,” Erika said.
Erika and her three young children will have to live on $800 less each month.
Lawyers who helped campaign to legalize recreational cannabis in 2012 spoke out immediately.
“This is heartbreaking, and I think this should be a message to marijuana consumers in Colorado,” attorney Brian Vicente told the Denver Channel.
Erika plans to appeal the decision by Pinnacol Assurance. A hearing is scheduled before an administrative law judge in the coming months.