It maybe legal to smoke marijuana in Colorado, however employees can still be fired for doing so, even on their personal time. A new Colorado state law went into effect on January 1, 2014, allowing anyone over the age of 21 to buy and consume a limited amount of marijuana.
As a result, you can walk into a store and legally buy marijuana. You still might get fired if you smoke. Marijuana is still a controlled substance on the federal level. The Colorado law states that businesses have the right to make a profit off marijuana use. The courts have ruled that employees can be fired for smoking pot on the job even in their private or personal time.
Curtis Graves, an attorney for the Mountain States Employers Council, a nonprofit that represents about 3,000 companies said, “if a company has a drug policy in place and an employee fails a drug test, employers can take whatever action they deem to be prudent.”
Employees can even be fired for smoking marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. Graves explains, “the reason for this apparent contradiction is that smoking pot is still illegal under federal law. The 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.”
As a result, employers can still enforce zero-tolerance policies. That decision came after a DISH Network employee filed a lawsuit in 2011. The employee was fired after testing positive for marijuana.
DISH Network replied by saying that the employee in question was using medical marijuana and was never impaired at work, however they stuck to their zero-tolerance drug policy anyway.
Graves said, “that case should serve as a warning to employees. Employers have all the rights and employees need to know what the rules are so they can abide by them.”