Colorado Bill Would Make it Illegal to Fire For Off The Clock Marijuana Use

It may be illegal to fire someone for personal cannabis consumption in Colorado.

Cannabis use shouldn’t be enough to get you fired. Especially if it’s off the clock. 

The Colorado legislature is considering a controversial bill that would make it illegal for companies to terminate employees for off duty cannabis use.

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The new law would protect Coloradans from losing their jobs for using marijuana in their free time. 

This is according to a recent KRDO report published just last week. 

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Despite statewide recreational legalization, under the current law, marijuana consumption still remains a fireable offense, even if it was done off the clock. 

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This is yet another example of how the stigma around cannabis use continues to have an impact. 

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Back in 2010, Colorado resident Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic, was fired from his job at Dish Network based solely on the results of a failed drug test and the company’s “zero-tolerance” policy.  

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against Coats in 2015, arguing that the termination had been lawful. 

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So, on the one hand, medical marijuana patients with qualifying health conditions are continually persecuted, forced to hide their cannabis use or risk being fired. 

But on the other hand, in the state of Colorado, it is illegal to fire someone for “lawful off-duty activities, including the off-duty consumption of alcohol.”

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Got drunk at the bar last weekend? No problem. 

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Smoked a joint for your chronic pain? You’re fired!

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Is anyone else sensing the irony here?

Evidently, Democratic lawmakers in Colorado are finally ready to make a move. 

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House Bill 20-1089 reads, in part, “Although…the Colorado constitution requires that marijuana be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol, employers are currently allowed to terminate employees for off-duty consumption of marijuana.”

The statute goes on to say, “It is a discriminatory or unfair employment practice for an employer to terminate the employment of any employee due to that employee’s engaging in any activity that is lawful under state law while off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours.”

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Democratic Representative Jovan Melton, one of the bill’s co-sponsors and a strong supporter of cannabis legislation, introduced the legislation.

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Rep. Melton recently told the Denver Post, “There 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.” 

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In addition, Melton added, “We may have to put some more guardrails and definitions. I’m more than willing to listen to the business community and see how maybe we can tighten language up if necessary.”

In response to the new bill, said Republican Representative Hugh McKean, “We know just form sobriety testing that marijuana lasts longer in the system than alcohol. It’s a tough question because as much as people want this to look exactly like alcohol, it’s not exactly like alcohol.”

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The proposed change in the Colorado state law would not apply to federal employees. 

Colorado Bill Would Make it Illegal to Fire For Off The Clock Marijuana Use was last modified: by