Colorado Bill Would Protect Employees’ Off-Duty Cannabis Use

A bill introduced in Colorado would stop employers from firing employees for off-duty cannabis use; similar laws already offer protections for alcohol consumption.

Full story after the jump.

A new bill introduced in Colorado would prevent employers from terminating employees for using cannabis when off duty, according to a KRDO report. Colorado law already prohibits employers from firing employees for “lawful off-duty activities, including the off-duty consumption of alcohol.”

The measure, introduced by Democratic Rep. Jovan Melton, would clarify that the state’s employment law applies to off-duty activities that are legal in the state, even if they are not legal federally. In 2015, the state Supreme Court ruled that Dish Network was allowed to fire an employee who tested positive for cannabis because the substance is outlawed federally. In the Dish Network case, the employee used medical cannabis to control his seizures and failed a random drug screening in 2010.

“It was just a glaring gap that we have here in the statute, especially when we’re supposed to regulate marijuana like we are with alcohol. If someone’s able to drink while they’re at home and on their free time, as long as they’re not coming into work intoxicated, then they’re not penalized with their employment.” – Melton, to the Denver Post

Loren Furman, an official with the state Chamber of Commerce, told the Post that members of the organization supported the 2015 Supreme Court Decision “and continue to do so.” Melton indicated he was “more than willing to listen to the business community” and would “tighten” the language of the bill “if necessary.”

The bill does not clarify the rights of employees who live in Colorado but work for an out-of-state business either remotely or otherwise, and federal employees in Colorado would likely be unprotected by the law, were it to pass, due to federal law.

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