According to a recent ruling handed down by the Colorado Court of Appeals, employers can legally fire private or public employees for marijuana use either on or off the clock. Since the legalization of both medical and restricted recreational use, marijuana-related charges are levied against Coloradoans less and less often. Only possession and cultivation of marijuana beyond legally prescribed limits can generally result in criminal charges. However, other consequences of use continue to be of concern for Colorado residents.
The court reasoned that because the federal government still forbids possession and use of marijuana that Colorado employees are not protected against employee retaliation directed at marijuana use. In general, when federal law and state law conflict, federal law always trumps state law. Of course, that is a difficult argument to understand in the case of Colorado’s marijuana laws given that all legalization provisions are upheld within state borders despite conflicts with federal law related to use of this particular drug.
As a result of this contradictory ruling, employers in Colorado may lawfully terminate employee contracts if workers test positive for marijuana use during either routine or random drug tests.
You can no longer be criminally prosecuted in Colorado for medical or recreational marijuana use subject to certain limits. However, you may suffer other consequences if you choose to partake in this substance. You may face traffic violations or termination from your job. Please, before you choose to legally use marijuana understand and carefully consider the reality that the decision may not be consequence-free.
Source: ABC-7.com. “Court says pot smokers can be fired, even in Colo.,” Steven K. Paulson, Apr. 25, 2013