Proposed bill seeks to let you use weed in Colorado without fear of losing your job

by Nick Gonzales

You and a coworker hit the water cooler at the same time on a random Monday.

“Hey,” the coworker says, “I found this cool new hazy IPA at the liquor store. You have to try it.”

You reply, “Rad, bruh. I’ve got some stuff for you as well. I was blazing some dank-ass chronic last night and got totally flame-broiled.”

Unbeknown to either of you, your boss is hiding behind a nearby fern and heard the whole exchange. Your coworker is safe, but under current Colorado law, you could get drug-tested and fired – and not just because you talk like a parody of a stoner.

Back in 2010, Brandon Coats tested positive for THC during a random drug test and his employer, Dish Network, fired him for violating its drug policy. Coats, a paraplegic who had gotten a medical marijuana license in 2009, sued Dish, citing Colorado law which states that it is discriminatory “for an employer to terminate the employment of any employee due to that employee’s engaging in any lawful activity off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours.”

Coats lost the case when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that even though he was abiding state law, he was violating federal law and consequently wasn’t protected from being canned at work.

Now, though, Reps. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, and Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, are seeking to change that. House Bill 1089 would extend the prohibition on an employer terminating an employee for off-duty activities “that are lawful under state law even if those activities are not lawful under federal law.”

In terms of a user’s employability, this would put marijuana on the same level as alcohol.

Before the measure can move to the floor, it must first pass the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee, which next meets Feb. 5. So maybe don’t announce your cannabis usage during your weed-intolerant company’s next conference call quite yet.

Nick Gonzales

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