The idea is to signal to the business community and to employers that because Colorado has legalized cannabis, the state should be following the same laws and rules that apply to prescription drugs.
Colorado employers would be prohibited from denying employment or firing workers because of their off-the-clock cannabis use and on-the-job medical marijuana consumption under a measure introduced last week.
What’s In The Bill
House Bill 1152, co-sponsored by Rep. Brianna Titone (D) and Rep. Edie Hooton, (D) would consider exceptions for those who work in dangerous fields or jobs requiring fine motor skills, The Colorado Sun writes.
The issue has been one of the focal points in Colorado, following the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012, which legalized the sale and use of recreational cannabis.
“Marijuana is legal in Colorado,” Titone said. “And what people do in their spare time that doesn’t impact their work shouldn’t really be a problem for them. They should be able to enjoy the legal things that we have here in Colorado and not be penalized for it.”
Titone and Hooton emphasized that using cannabis can be grounds for job termination, addressing the case of Colorado Supreme Court ruling in favor of an employer, Dish Network who fired worker Brandon Coats after he tested positive for cannabis.
“The whole idea is to signal to the business community and to employers that because we have legalized cannabis, we should be following the same laws and rules that apply to alcohol and prescription drugs,” Hooton said.
Considering that a similar measure was dismissed in 2020, pushback from employers with drug-free workplace policies is expected. The Colorado Chamber of Commerce also hasn’t disclosed its official position.
“The National Federal of Independent Businesses has historically opposed any legislation that would (allow) the use of marijuana on the property of the employer or cause an employee to test positive for any prohibited drug or prohibit any authority of the employer to perform random drug tests,” said Tony Gagliardi, who leads the Colorado chapter of the group. “Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”
Nevertheless, Titone intends to present the measure as a way for Colorado-based employers to quickly find workers.
House Minority Leader Chris Holbert, (R), who opposes the concept, highlighted that Amendment 64’s provision clarified that “employers can have a 100% drug-free policy in their workplace, and that, in my opinion, should not be infringed upon.”
The amendment’s provision states: “Nothing in this (ballot measure) is intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, delay, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace to affect the ability of employers to have policies restrict the use of marijuana by employees.”
Meanwhile, House Bill 1152 will have to wait for its first committee hearing, which is yet to be scheduled.