Colorado Bill Would Prevent Termination for Off-the-Clock Cannabis Use

A bill introduced in Colorado would prevent employers from denying employment or terminating an employee for consuming cannabis outside of business hours.

Full story after the jump.

A bill introduced in Colorado would prohibit employers from denying employment to or terminating workers because of their off-the-clock cannabis use, the Colorado Sun reports. The measure would protect both medical and non-medical cannabis users but includes exceptions for some safety-sensitive positions, including those requiring heavy machinery use and in dangerous fields.

State Rep. Brianna Titone (D) told the Sun that Coloradans “should be able to enjoy the legal things” allowed in the state “and not be penalized for it.”

“Marijuana is legal in Colorado. And what people do in their spare time that doesn’t impact their work shouldn’t really be a problem for them.” – Titone to the Sun

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only Nevada and New Jersey – which both allow adult cannabis use – include employee protections for using cannabis off-the-clock.

In 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court sided with an employer, Dish Network, who fired an employee after he tested positive for THC in a random drug test. The employee had a medical cannabis card for back spasms caused by his quadriplegia – the condition is one of the seven for which medical cannabis can be recommended under Colorado law.

A similar bill was rejected in 2020, the report says, and the reforms are still opposed by the Colorado chapter of the National Federal of Independent Businesses. Tony Gagliardi, who heads the chapter, said the organization “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.

The bill co-prime sponsor Rep. Edie Hooton (D) told the Sun that the “whole idea” of the proposal “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.”

The Colorado Chamber of Commerce has not taken an official position but has previously opposed similar legislation.

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