Bill Would Prohibit Firing Colorado Workers Based Solely on Positive Marijuana Tests

The bill, which has been proposed by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' local branch, also would require employers to provide evidence that an employee was unable to perform his or her duties because of marijuana use.

A newly proposed bill would make it illegal for Colorado employers to fire employees solely on the basis of a positive test for marijuana. The bill, which has been proposed by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' (NORML) local branch, also would require employers to provide evidence that an employee was unable to perform their duties because of marijuana use.

The Marijuana Consumer Employment Discrimination Protection Bill states that a positive drug test for trace amounts of marijuana cannot be grounds to fire an employee unless the employee "used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana during the hours of employment."

At present, Colorado law protects employees from being fired for participating in lawful activities outside of work. However, according to NORML legal counsel Judd Golden, because marijuana is still federally prohibited, consuming it can be deemed an "unlawful activity," Matt Cortina of the Boulder Weekly reported. The proposed bill would clarify that the law should reflect the state-level legality of marijuana.

"In Colorado, you're letting the federal illegality define what can happen between you and your boss," Golden said in the article. "But if you think it's right — the voter-supported legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes — how could you allow employers to treat it like it's illegal? It's not fair."

The bill would set out medical marijuana users as a protected class. However, it would not affect employers' ability to screen for non-marijuana drugs or supersede federal laws regarding employees who work with heavy machinery or have federal partnerships but operate in Colorado. In addition, employers would still be able to screen for impairment.

NORML is currently looking for Colorado legislators to sponsor the bill, which has not yet reached the floor of the state legislature.

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