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The man who claimed to be the first person to buy legal marijuana in Washington State, then lost his job when he appeared on TV, is apparently having a tough time finding new work.

Michael BoyerMike Boyer was the first person in line at a Spokane weed shop when it opened July 8, the first day of sales in Washington. He may have been the first in the state to buy weed from a store.

At the time, Boyer gave an interview to a local TV news outlet. When his story appeared nationwide, he was promptly fired by his employer from two separate jobs.

When the story resulted in a popular backlash, the employer rehired Boyer – but only to one of the jobs. And he hasn’t been able to pick up any hours working that job, he said.

“I can’t get a job,” Boyer said. “Everywhere I go, the employer goes, ‘you’re the weed guy. We saw you on the news.’”

Things aren’t as bad as they were. Boyer said he found a landscaping job in North Spokane in September. His boss doesn’t allow him to use weed – or talk about it – on the job. But the new employer didn’t bar Boyer from using pot at home.

That was a sticking point when Boyer applied to various jobs. He made it through a few initial interviews, but when he refused to take a drug test he was passed over. Boyer said he also tried to get a job in the cannabis industry but hasn’t heard back from anyone.

“I just wish someone in the movement would pick me up,” he said.

Weed has been legal in Washington since last year, and stores have been sprouting across the state since July. But employers are allowed to ban drug use of any kind at any time by their workers. They can require drug tests and fire legal users.

This isn’t the first time an employee has been fired for using weed that’s perfectly legal. In Colorado, the state attorney general announced this summer that businesses have the right to fire workers who consume pot.

Marijuana SmokingA quadriplegic in Colorado, Brandon Coats, has sought unsuccessfully get his job back after he was fired from Dish Network for using medical marijuana off duty. A state appellate court rejected his argument that employers can’t fire people for doing something legal in their own time.

Boyer’s landscaping job is only part-time, though he’s hopeful it will turn into a full-time position. He said his cannabis use has never interfered with his work ethic.

“It’s never been a problem in the past,” he said. “I just need the opportunity to prove myself. Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

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About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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