For Employers, Pot Legalization Changes Little

WASHINGTON:  It’s springtime for marijuana in Washington.

Pot shops and grow ops are sprouting by the dozen. Consumers can buy bags from licensed retailers without fear of arrest, and light up legally in the privacy of their homes.

Yes, much has changed for marijuana enthusiasts since the state conditionally legalized recreational use of the drug in 2012.

As for employers? “Nothing has changed,” said James McCanna, a Kingston lawyer specializing in employment law.

What You Need To Know If You Have Employees Who Use Medical Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Since 1996, 20 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of legislation that allows for the non-criminal use of marijuana for medical purposes, with more states likely to follow suit.

Colorado and Washington are the only states at this time that allow for the recreational use of marijuana. Employers who operate in these states may be uncertain about what circumstances they can take action with respect to an employee who fails a drug test or otherwise admits to being a medical marijuana patient.

Here are some points worth keeping in mind:

In Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and Rhode Island, employers may not refuse to hire or otherwise penalize an individual solely on the basis of that individual’s status as a qualified patient for medical marijuana use. Additionally, Arizona and Delaware strictly prohibit discharging, penalizing or refusing to hire lawful medical marijuana users based upon a positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites unless (s)he used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana while the patient was on the employer’s premises or during work hours. This means in Arizona and Delaware, a positive test result alone will not provide the employer with sufficient grounds to discharge. The employer must have additional evidence that an employee was under the influence of marijuana while at work.

 

Fired For Legally Smoking Pot: The Coming Colorado Crackdown

COLORADO: On New Year’s Day, Colorado became the first state in which it’s legal to recreationally smoke pot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a fireable offense. Under U.S. law, private companies can fire employees for almost anything they do at home or at work. And while Colorado has bucked the trend by banning firings for “lawful” outside-work activities, that protection doesn’t extend to pot.

“I’m not going to get better any time soon,” paraplegic plaintiff Brandon Coats told reporters after his 2010 firing by Dish Network was upheld in a precedent-setting Colorado Court of Appeals case last April. “I need the marijuana, and I don’t want to go the rest of my life without holding a job.” [Read more…]

Fired For Legally Smoking Pot: The Coming Colorado Crackdown

COLORADO: On New Year’s Day, Colorado became the first state in which it’s legal to recreationally smoke pot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a fireable offense. Under U.S. law, private companies can fire employees for almost anything they do at home or at work. And while Colorado has bucked the trend by banning firings for “lawful” outside-work activities, that protection doesn’t extend to pot.

“I’m not going to get better any time soon,” paraplegic plaintiff Brandon Coats told reporters after his 2010 firing by Dish Network was upheld in a precedent-setting Colorado Court of Appeals case last April. “I need the marijuana, and I don’t want to go the rest of my life without holding a job.” [Read more…]

Employers Can Still Fire Pot Smokers For Legal Use In Colorado

COLORADO: As Colorado cannabis sales begin Jan. 1, one fact is sometimes overlooked: Employers still can fire workers for using it on- or off-duty.

State law gives employers full authority to impose any drug prohibitions they wish, despite it being legal in Colorado for adults to possess and consume marijuana.

“Employers hold all the cards,” said Curtis Graves, a staff attorney for the Mountain States Employers Council.

So you smoke only off-duty? Not good enough. Consuming just at home provides no protection if your workplace drug test comes back positive for marijuana.

Many employees may be enjoying a false sense of security stemming from passage last year of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana possession for adults in Colorado. [Read more…]

Employers Can Still Fire Pot Smokers For Legal Use In Colorado

COLORADO: As Colorado cannabis sales begin Jan. 1, one fact is sometimes overlooked: Employers still can fire workers for using it on- or off-duty.

State law gives employers full authority to impose any drug prohibitions they wish, despite it being legal in Colorado for adults to possess and consume marijuana.

“Employers hold all the cards,” said Curtis Graves, a staff attorney for the Mountain States Employers Council.

So you smoke only off-duty? Not good enough. Consuming just at home provides no protection if your workplace drug test comes back positive for marijuana.

Many employees may be enjoying a false sense of security stemming from passage last year of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana possession for adults in Colorado. [Read more…]