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Colorado Could Ban Firing Employees For Marijuana Use

“Marijuana is legal in Colorado,” said Rep. Brianna Titone. “They should be able to enjoy the legal things that we have”

KDVR

Legislators could soon prohibit Colorado employers from firing workers because of their off-the-clock marijuana use. Two Democratic lawmakers introduced the measure last week at the statehouse, reports The Colorado Sun.

House Bill 1152 also requires employers to let their workers consume medicinal Cannabis while on the job. The bill includes exceptions for workers whose jobs are in dangerous fields or require fine motor skills, such as operating heavy machinery.

“Marijuana is legal in Colorado,” said state Rep. Brianna Titone, a Democrat and sponsor of the bill. “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 is pitching the measure as a way for employers to more easily find workers in Colorado’s tight labor market.

Workplace Question

The bill seeks to answer a workplace question in Colorado since voters passed Amendment 64 in 2012. That’s the voter initiative that legalized the sale and adult use of marijuana.

Most states that legalize leave the question of employees’ marijuana use up to employers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures

Nevada and New Jersey are two exceptions. In New Jersey, employers can prohibit employees from using marijuana while on the job or showing up to work impaired. But they cannot penalize an employee solely because of their off-the-clock recreational marijuana use.

“We Should Be Following The Same Rules And Laws That Apply To Alcohol And Prescription Drugs”

“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,” said bill cosponsor Rep Edie Hooton, a Boulder Democrat.

Titone and Hooton introduced the legislation last Friday. Hooton said she is still talking to the business and labor communities about it. Major opposition hasn’t cropped up yet. But it’s likely that employers who have drug-free workplace policies will oppose it.

Lawmakers rejected a similar bill in 2020.

Colorado GOP House Minority Leader Chris Holbert opposes the concept. 

Active THC vs Metabolites

Holbert did say, however, that he would encourage employers in Colorado to know the difference between drug tests. That is, if they can tell if someone has active THC – which can indicate if someone is currently high – in their system, or just metabolites.

Colorado has an arbitrary 5 ng/ml THC blood limit for drivers.

People in Colorado often argue they aren’t impaired when charged with marijuana DUI. They argue that the THC in their bloodstream reflects prior or frequent consumption.

No Hearing Yet Scheduled

Titone and Hooton introduced the bill in the Colorado House on Feb. 4. It’s now before the House Committee of Business Affairs and Labor.

House Bill 1152 is not yet scheduled for its first committee hearing, reports KDVR.

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