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Bill would prevent Colorado employers from firing for off-duty marijuana use

smoking joint cannabis

DENVER (KRDO) -- A new bill filed in the Colorado legislature would prevent employers from firing employees for using cannabis when off duty.

State law already prohibits employers from terminating employees for "lawful off-duty activities, including the off-duty consumption of alcohol," but that hasn't extended to cannabis.

House Bill 20-1089, filed by Jovan Melton of Denver, would clarify that the regulation applies to off-duty activities that are lawful under state, even if they're not legal federally.

That means employees could talk about bud like they talk about Bud Light without worrying about losing their jobs over it.

The issue of firing for cannabis use has been longstanding since recreational marijuana began being sold in 2014. It came to a head in 2015, when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Dish Network was able to terminate an employee who tested positive for marijuana because pot remains illegal under federal law.

It's unlikely that this would apply to staffers in federal jobs in the state, and employees can still be terminated for using marijuana on duty. There are still many questions that would need to be addressed regarding liability for employers and the rights of employers who are based in states without legal access to marijuana.

The bill has been introduced and assigned to the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee.

Andrew McMillan



  1. It’s not “unlikely”….if you are a fed employee or holding a clearance, use will cost you your job.

    1. As long as someone doesn’t attempt to work while under the influence of a drug (including alcohol) that could impair their ability to do that job. Drivers are obviously particularly at risk, and so are many other workers where fast reflexes and/or the ability to concentrate are important for the safe execution of their work. And there are more jobs than many people realize where that’s critical.

      1. There in lies the problem… How long after taking your last toke are you considered “No longer under the influence? How can a job check to see if you have been smoking, AND are “Under the influence”? I talk about how “Weed” affected me, but my last time was in 1975. Could I be fired for that? I smoked, and was definitely not on company time… Most of the companies from today didn’t even exist then.

        1. You’re right, that therein lies the problem. Test can show levels of THC in your system but, like alcohol, different amounts affect different people in different ways. They eventually legislated the amounts that are believed to cause impairment, but those levels varied from state to state, which shows how inaccurate they really are. And no reasonable way has yet been invented to determine impairment itself, which is the critical parameter in all cases.

  2. I think our police officers, doctors, and airlines pilots should be able to light one up while working, its legal right?

    1. while working? see its people like YOU that cause problems with issues like this…..grow a brain and understand what these people are talking about…..OFF DUTY do you under stand?

  3. Finally- common sense is prevailing.
    I can tell you-just a hung over person is not worth their salt at their job.
    I do not see that happening if someone used cannabis the night before on their own time.

    1. Weed stays in your system longer than alcohol. The problem will be how to determine if they are under the influence. Weed is not something you can just go sleep off. Just like any other drug.

      1. Incorrect……in fact you couldn’t be more wrong. the only thing you’d have to worry about is working out or doing heavy labor because thc stores in fat cells and as you burn them you might get a buzz, but that’s about it. ask a REAL doctor and he will explain it to you.

    2. You don’t see it because you’re in the same haze as other who are affected. People who are affected by weed too often don’t realize it themselves, because their senses have been desensitized sufficiently.

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