Legal pot complicates drug-free work policies

Pot may be legal, but workers may want to check with their boss first before they grab the pipe or joint during off hours.
Associated Press
Dec 8, 2012


Businesses in Washington state, where the drug is legal, and Colorado, where it will be by January, are trying to figure out how to deal with employees who use it on their own time and then fail a drug test.

It is yet another uncertainty that has come with pot legalization as many ask how the laws will affect them.

"There's just an incredible amount of gray right now" about how marijuana legalization affects employers, said Sandra Hagen Solin of the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, a coalition of chambers of commerce.

Police departments are especially worried. Officers take oaths to protect all laws, state and federal. In this case, pot is still prohibited under federal law.

The Seattle police department is reviewing its policies on drug use by officers or prospective officers, spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said, adding that it's unlikely off-duty officers will be allowed to use pot. The department might ease its requirement that applicants not have used marijuana in the previous three years.

The Denver police department is reviewing Colorado's marijuana law, which goes into effect in January. The department has no immediate plans to change employment practices, spokesman John White said.

"Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, so officers would not under any scenario be allowed to use marijuana," White said. White wasn't sure about pre-employment marijuana use.

Other employers, especially those with federal contracts, are concerned what the new laws mean for them. One group of Colorado businesses has pleaded for clarity in a letter to the White House, which hasn't said if it would sue to block the law.

"The uncertainly created will cause havoc for our members and hamper their efforts to maintain drug-free worksites," wrote Mark Latimer, head of the Rocky Mountain chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors.

The havoc Latimer refers to is confusion over a law passed with cigarette smokers in mind. Colorado's Lawful Off-Duty Activities law says workers can't be dismissed for legal behavior off the clock. A case pending in a state appeals court could settle the question.

The case involves Brandon Coats, a telephone operator for Dish Network. Paralyzed in a teenage car crash, he's also been a medical marijuana patient in Colorado since 2009. Coats was fired in 2010 for failing a company drug test, though his employer didn't claim he was ever impaired on the job.

Coats sued to get his job back, but a trial court dismissed his claim in 2011. The judge agreed with Dish Network that medical marijuana use isn't a "lawful activity" covered by the law. Coats appealed, and the state Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case but hasn't set a date.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than half the states have laws that protect workers who smoke cigarettes off the clock. Colorado's law extends to all legal activities, though Washington state doesn't have a similar statute.

"If you're doing it at home and it's not illegal and it's not impairing your work performance, you should be protected," said Coats' lawyer, Michael Evans.

Some employers are required by law to conduct drug testing, including in industries regulated by the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Energy and Defense. In other cases, companies or agencies that receive federal grants or contracts, including universities that get money from the Department of Education and police agencies that obtain grants from the Department of Justice, are required to maintain drug-free workplaces.

One of Washington's biggest private employers, The Boeing Co., generally requires drug tests before employment, upon reasonable suspicion or after accidents. The Washington measure won't change any of that, said company spokeswoman Cathy Rudolph. "The safety and integrity of our operations, products and services is paramount," she said in an email.

For companies like Boeing without random or regular drug testing, it's not entirely clear how such policies can be enforced.

Some lawyers are encouraging companies to take stock of their drug policies. "This is a good time for employers to revisit their policies and make sure they're still consistent with what they want to do, and to talk with their employees about what the policies are," said Mark Berry, an employment lawyer.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a Denver-based chain with locations in the two states, has no plans to revisit its drug policy. Spokesman Kevin Caulfield said the policy already covers legal drugs, such as prescription medication. Marijuana would be treated the same, he said.

"If a drug is legal, as long as it's not abused or misused, it would not be something covered by the policy," Caulfield said.




Now, it's really going to get interesting. The smokers will wish they had just let it all alone!


Just wait until the health cost kicks in. We will be paying more in health premiums for all the pot heads. The insurance companies will be going nuts on this one.

Floyd P

Seriously? Pot is less of a health risk than cigarettes and alcohol. The only possibility is a sugar-induced coma.


we are already paying for it, with all the aging hippies and cokeheads from the 70's and 80's....

Licorice Schtick

Oh, yeah, it's the boomers' fault. No drug abuse among later generations? Seriously? And how do you think rampant obesity will affect the health of millenials as they age?

Phil Packer

I know A LOT LOT more people who have alcohol problems. A LOT.

The Big Dog's back

In Corporations we trust.

straight shooter

Marijuana is about as harmful as caffeine. Health care costs are high due to alcohol,tobacco,prescription meds,processed foods,contaminated drinking water, and lack of excerise.

Licorice Schtick

Nonsense. Pot is about as bad for your lungs as tobacco.

Phil Packer

Of course, nobody smokes as much pot as they do tobacco in one day...

straight shooter
Its amazing what you can find with the push of a button. Try it.


What drug, steroid or alcohol test was given to the 13 police officers who shot those 137 bullets near Cleveland, Ohio?

What drug or alcohol test is given to Ohio's corrupt judges when they decide court cases?

How many of you have done scientific research into the medical qualities of cannabis?

How about all the junk food and prescription drugs that kill over a hundred thousand each year?

You all have internet access to the internet. Do your research about the medical wonders of cannabis. It is not all about getting high or stoned.



Simple minded people only want simple answers.

For those who seek truthful and informative answers, do your research. Use the internet to your advantage.

(internet link deleted) "Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted."

It is not about getting high, it is about getting healthy from a plant.

Licorice Schtick

The "spam filter" leads to stupid rejections, and discourages participantion. When it's triggered, the post should be flagged for review before posting, not rejected outright; certainly not a post from a long-time member-in-good-standing.


One can always go back and re-phrase.

Licorice Schtick

Not when it's apparently rejected due to a link, and only removing it works. (I've had that problem with obviously non-ad links, BTW.)

Erie County Resident

Great suggestion use the internet.
I have met 8 people on-line from Kalifornia and talk to them on a regular basis.
They all have their "420" permit to smoke medical dope.
Not one of them has a legitimate reason to have it, we've had very lengthy conversations about it. They also admit the fraud themselves.
"Feeling a bit tense, guess I'll go Medicate myself" seems to be a common phrase with them. They've also posted pictures of their family pot plants that they are allowed to grow out there.
Nope nothing there about just getting high... LMAO!!!


Try copying and pasting without the http. Let the user then copy and paste. Works for me.


...or change the link using something like (which has the added bonus of saving space, too).

Licorice Schtick

That's odd, because the system automatically creats links.


The Bible Was Right and the answers you're looking for are in scripture

Leviticus 20:13- "If a man lays with another man he should be stoned"


If you're altered ON the job, I can see the point whether you've used legal marijuana or legal alcohol or a legal prescription to get to that altered state. But what you do on your own time, provided you don't harm others while you're doing it, ought to be YOUR business, not mine and certainly not the government's!

This is just another mountain-out-of-a-molehill issue courtesy of those who think they know better than you what you ought and ought NOT to do, and who really enjoy the power it gives them to exercise such control. You think some drugs are addictive (marijuana, by the way, isn't one of them), you ought to see what POWER does to people!

Floyd P

Talk about double-standards. If it's legal in that state, then what's the problem? Alcohol is also considered a drug but it's been socially acceptable in all 50 states and US Territories for 80 years. Understandably, some industries require testing for safety concerns but then maybe it should be all-compassing to include alcohol. The Supreme Court is currently debating a measure where the Federal government would recognize and uphold some state's same sex marriage laws, which it should then consider applying to legalized marijuana. For the companies that set their own policy they can simply revise them to maintain and hire valuable workers who perform. This shouldn't be such an issue, all it is is a biased mind-set in culturally-influenced or outright ignorant people.


This country is backwards in many ways. Same sex marriage? No prob. Abortion? Sure. Yet what any responsible adult does in their time?

The Big Dog's back

I pledge allegiance to the flags of the Corporations of America. Why do Corporations get to circumvent our Constitution?

"A pair of scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has found that a compound derived from marijuana could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer, potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever."
"NBC News Reports that Cannabidiol (CBD) "Turns Off" the Cancer Gene Involved in Metastasis Findings by Scientists at California Pacific Medical Center gives Scientific Support for Cannabis Science Initiatives"
"Cannabis Science™ is in a unique position to pursue the development of HIV/AIDS and cancer medications. The endocannabinoid system normally regulates blood pressure through its capacity to dilate blood vessels and reduce adrenergic stimuli. Additionally, there is a developing body of evidence that shows both the tumor killing properties of endo- and phyto- cannabinoids, and their ability to inhibit metastasis in a variety of cancers."
"Scientific and clinical studies indicate that CBD could be effective in easing symptoms of a wide range of difficult-to-control conditions, including: rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, PTSD, epilepsy, antibiotic-resistant infections and neurological disorders. CBD has demonstrated neuroprotective effects, and its anti-cancer potential is currently being explored at several academic research centers in the U.S. and other countries."
"Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-toxic, non-psychoactive chemical found in the cannabis plant, that had already been effective in relieving convulsion, inflammation, anxiety and nausea, and in treating schizophrenia and dystonia. For the 2007 study, Sean McAllister, who was specifically studying the effects of cannabidiol, collaborated with Pierre Desprez, who for the last 10 years has been studying the ID-1 gene in cancer that causes metastasis."

"For over 30 years, US politicians and bureaucrats have systematically turned a blind eye to scientific research indicating that marijuana may play a role in cancer prevention -- a finding that was first documented in 1974. That year, a research team at the Medical College of Virginia (acting at the behest of the federal government) discovered that cannabis inhibited malignant tumor cell growth in culture and in mice. According to the study's results, reported nationally in an Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, administration of marijuana's primary cannabinoid THC, "slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent."

Despite these favorable preclinical findings, US government officials dismissed the study (which was eventually published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1975), and refused to fund any follow-up research until conducting a similar –- though secret –- clinical trial in the mid-1990s. That study, conducted by the US National Toxicology Program to the tune of $2 million concluded that mice and rats administered high doses of THC over long periods experienced greater protection against malignant tumors than untreated controls.

Rather than publicize their findings, government researchers once again shelved the results, which only came to light after a draft copy of its findings were leaked in 1997 to a medical journal, which in turn forwarded the story to the national media."


No different than barring inebreation, you come in high or drunk or stoned, you should be fired, period!!! This aint a Cheetch and Chong movie it is a workplace where only sober people should be allowed.


Pots not bad for the lungs if people would do there research befor they start posting stupid stuff about how bad it is get online and look pot is used for altymers,all kinds of cancer,HIV/AIDS,glacoma,and its also been proveing that it helps with as ASTHMA,along with many more illnesses ,The reason health care is up so much is becuse of all the perscription drugs and tobacco along with some other junk..Anyone in there right mind would know that makeing Pot legal would do are goverment real good they would be making millions off a plant that GOD gave us..Man made Beer God Made Pot witch one would u trust..i think ill stick with what go gave us already .u never hear of someone OD on pot becuse u cant od on it.i dont think ive ever heard of someone being arrested for smokeing then going out for a drive.but i know tons of peps that can have a few drinks an go for a ride but i guess thats ok.Hell why not Perkins Police do it why cant we..point of this is for half the people that dont smoke or have health issues an wanna judge others honestly save it unless u walk a mile in there shoes..till then STFU!!


Alcohol is measured by BAC while a person is intoxicated. The next day that person's BAC is 0.00 but has a nasty hangover and can't focus on work. This person could be a factory worker, LE or any profession where the hangover could cause injury or death to another person.

Were any of those 13 policemen who shot off those 137 bullets tested for drugs, alcohol or steroids? Steroids make a person very aggressive.

Cannabis can be detected many weeks after use.


"Hangovers can last up to 72 hours after drinking, but most are shorter in duration. Again it depends on how much was consumed, how dehydrated you became, nutritional status, ethnicity, gender, the state of your liver, medications, etc."

3 days. Imagine that. Those Ohio judges must have a lot of hangovers.


Ditto 3 day hangovers for politicians and lawmakers.

xdefiance's picture

Criminal marijuana prohibition is a failure. Over 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965. The time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization, taxation, regulation, and education.



Very much agree. And that's what helped both CO and WA get the legislation passed last month. Both states are estimating at least $1 billion in revenue within 5 years though the revenue could be more or less. It's really hard to guesstimate. Whoever drafted the legislation in CO did a wonderful job by having 100% of the revenue going to schools, leading to the measure's passage in that state by over 70% of those who voted. Even though OR has had a medical marijuana program in place since 1998, Oregon's ballot measure failed because it was too broad-based. Hopefully the folks who backed OR's ballot measure will learn from their WA & CO brethren.


Has a lot to do with your job! If you're driving my kids to school no you can't smoke pot! If you're flipping my hamburger at McDonalds I could care less. People need to mind your own and get out everyones business! I know you're retired or don't got jobs but gezzzzzzzzzzz


Swiss cannabis information

Translation into English

There are a lot of links within links in the above link. To those who are really interested, the links provide a basic start for researching cannabis. Not only for health but also for job creation in America.

Corporate owned American news media will not give Americans the news that they need to hear. Americans should seek truthful news from other sources. Many of the news medias located in foreign nations can be translated to English. Get the news that corporate owned American news media refuses to release.

To inform and educate the masses.


aging hippies and cokeheads? how long do you think drug abusers live? many 'hippies' gave into the status quo and cleaned up their acts. the rest are probably dead. although I am still alive, not doing drugs and not living off of you or any insurance company. in any case, I would rather employ a pot head than a drunk any day.


Big deal...employers are going to screen you for marijuana. I f you test positive you will not be allowed to participate in company insurance or they may choose to allow you to participate with higher premiums. It's no different than sanduskys own FRMC refusing to hire smokers and charging obese employees higher deductible rates for their insurance. My be legal but they dont =have to employ you or offer you benefits if they choose not to.



The pdf file is 24 pages long and is not directed to the simple minded people.

To inform and educate the masses.

"Why they're healthy: "Hemp seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke," says Cassandra Forsythe, Ph. D., a nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut. What's more, a 1-ounce serving of the seeds provides 11 grams of protein—but not the kind of incomplete protein found in most plant sources. Hemp seeds provide all the essential amino acids, meaning the protein they contain is comparable to that found in meat, eggs, and dairy."

Read more:


Even though I grew up in Sandusky, I've been living in the Portland, OR area since '89. Medical marijuana has been legal for OR residents since 1998, but ~2 years ago an Oregon resident who's legally disabled and a card-carrying member of Oregon's medical marijuana program was fired from his job after admitting to his employer, when questioned prior to a required drug test, that he was using medical marijuana as approved by his doctor. He sued in federal court under the American Disabilities Act, but the Federal Court Judge had to dismiss the case because marijuana possession or use is, as we all know, illegal under Federal law.

Since December 4th, recreational use in the State of WA just north of me is legal, but it's not yet legal to grow or purchase marijuana in WA because they haven't set up the system. Crazy. And what happens when federal agents raid a home in Oregon, California (medical marijuana program), Washington or Colorado and find an ounce of marijuana? Ultimately, as more States legalize marijuana use, there will probably be a lawsuit that wends its way to the Supreme Court.