On June 5, the Colorado Supreme Court made an important decision that could affect the rest of the country when it comes to medical marijuana. The CO Supreme Court confirmed that it is lawful for an employer to fire workers who fail company-sponsored drug tests, even though medical marijuana is legal.
"The Court said that because marijuana is illegal under federal law, it cannot be considered a 'lawful activity' under Colorado's lawful activities statute. What's more, although many state medical marijuana laws create an affirmative defense against criminal prosecution, they do not give patients an affirmative right to use marijuana. These inconsistencies are a recipe for confusion among employers and employees." Continue reading this article by Kabrina Krebel Chang, "How the Colorado Supreme Court just Confused Every Employer in America about Marijuana," on Fortune.com.
As an employer, you need to fully understand the requirements of the law and ensure your company policies align with state and federal laws. Marijuana, medical or recreational, is still illegal in most states. It is important to remember that if your state passes a law to legalize marijuana, but does not address employment protection, you, as the employer, can decide how to handle the situation.
It's estimated that large employers are not likely to change their company policies, but smaller companies might be more willing to change their policies because of how costly it is to replace employees. Also, remember that marijuana comes in many different forms, and liquid THC can even be used in e-cigarettes.
These tricky rulings make this topic even more difficult and confusing for employers. Let us know if you have any questions.