As many residents of Denver know, Colorado has to some extent allowed the residents of this state to use marijuana legally. While the state constitution has for over five years allowed people to possess and use marijuana in limited quantities, the drug technically remains illegal under federal law.
This is an important point for Denver workers who, whether for medical reasons or otherwise, choose to use marijuana. The reason is that the current status of Colorado law is that employers can prohibit employees from using the drug as part of their drug free workplace policies. One government institution did just that just a few months ago.
Colorado law prohibits employers from punishing employees who engage in legal behavior while off the clock. However, the most recent holding of the Colorado Supreme Court concluded that marijuana use is not legal behavior since the drug remains prohibited under federal law. Employers are therefore allowed to prohibit employees from using the drug or even for testing positive for it.
In the latter case, it is important to note that marijuana can remain in one's system long after the effects of the drug have worn off.
Nevertheless, it is likely that as society as a whole continues to grow more accepting of this drug, this issue will emerge again. In the interim, if an employee does get in trouble for his or her legalized, off-duty marijuana use, then he or she should at least consider reviewing the employer's drug policies carefully, as there may be an argument that the employee did nothing wrong. An attorney who has experience with discrimination claims can help an employee in this situation evaluate his or her options.