Reminder: Your job's not safe just because pot's legal


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The Colorado Bar Association issued a "public service" press release to remind people that yes, you can still lose your job over marijuana use. Nothing in either Amendment 20 or Amendment 64 protects workers; in fact, the latter specifically says, "Nothing in this section is intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace or to affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees." 

It's wording like that that leaves some marijuana advocates feeling like off-duty employee use is one of the last areas where progress is needed. The CBA's release reiterates the possibility that jobs could be at risk:

"While companies can choose to have different policies, many of them choose to have a 'zero tolerance' policy," the association says. "It’s easy to understand a company saying it will have zero tolerance for employees who sell or distribute marijuana at the worksite, and you probably assume that just possessing it on the job is also grounds for discharge. Likewise, you might assume that using it on the job, even on breaks, can get you fired. But what about just having it in your system when at work? What if you used it the night before, or the month before, and it’s still in your system when you are drug-tested?

"That’s a question that Brandon Coats learned the hard way. Coats was a medical marijuana user, who, according to the facts laid out in a recent decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals, Coats v. Dish Network LLC, had never used marijuana while at work. Still, he came up positive on a drug test and was discharged."

While Coats' case is headed to the Colorado Supreme Court over lower court rulings that Dish Network was within its rights, many other locals are still vulnerable, says a separate press release from the Mountain States Employers Council.

"A recent survey by [the MSEC] found that 66 percent of Colorado Springs-based companies currently drug test their employees, with all drug tests including testing for marijuana," it reads. "Despite its recent legalization in the state, when asked, 96 percent of employers said they do not think marijuana should be omitted from their company drug tests. Because of Amendment 64, nearly 40 percent of employers even worked to make their drug testing policy more stringent."

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