Skip to Content

Recreational use of Marijuana is legal, but employers can fire you for using it; What you should know about Marijuana use and keeping your job.

by  on  News

A lot has been discussed about the legalization of marijuana and the first retail sales that began on January 1, 2014. Much has also been made of the conflict between state and federal law that legalization has created: Colorado state law permits recreational use of marijuana in private by those 21 years and older, but federal law still prohibits it. Not much discussion has focused on a very different kind of conflict, however, one that could have huge repercussions for anyone taking advantage of their new legal right to partake of recreational marijuana: they can be fired from their job if they do. Your Denver personal injury attorney explains below the confusing concept of being able to be fired for engaging in a legal activity outside of work or during non-work hours.

Many Colorado employers who have drug testing, and who have strict no-drug policies do not intend to change their testing policy–at least not initially. Obviously, keeping these zero-drug policies sets up a standard where employees who engage in the legal activity of using recreational marijuana outside of work can be fired if a drug test comes back positive for marijuana. Compare that scenario with the fact that employees who engage in another legal activity that has a similar potential to impair job performance–drinking alcohol–do not have to submit to tests to determine if they have imbibed recently, and cannot get fired even if their employer finds out that they did.

Your Denver personal injury attorney knows how confusing this conflict in the law is, but unfortunately, the conflict between state and federal law is not going away anytime soon: “A Colorado State Court of Appeals said that unless pot is legal under [both] state and federal law it is not protected under the lawful off-duty activities law.” This decision was reached in a case where an employee was fired for testing positive for marijuana after using medical marijuana, which his employer had notice of and the employee had a license to use. The employer, DISH Network, agreed that the employee in question was using medical marijuana and was never impaired at work, but nonetheless enforced its zero-tolerance drug policy and fired the employee. The case is on appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Let this serve as a warning to employees: just because recreational use of marijuana is now legal under Colorado state law, as long as it is illegal under federal law, employers can enforce zero-tolerance drug policies and fire employees for failing a drug test for marijuana. For additional information on recreational marijuana use and how it could affect your job, contact your Denver personal injury attorney at Levine Law today.