Legal or not, you could get fired for smoking pot

Employers have discretion to continue drug testing

DENVER - While marijuana may be legally purchased, legally possessed and legally smoked as of January 1, under Colorado law, it can also get you legally fired.

There is already a precedent for this in the state courts.

In 2010 a Colorado man was fired by his employer, Dish Network, for using medical marijuana off-duty. The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the firing which is now being heard by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Amendment 64 gives employers the same discretion, allowing them to prohibit marijuana use both on and off the job.

Marijuana proponents believe it's a double-standard.

"No business would ever fire an employee simply because they had a couple beers over the weekend or a cocktail after work," said marijuana advocate Mason Tvert. "So there's really no logical reason why an employee should be fired just for using marijuana over the weekend -- which is a far less harmful substance."

But Amendment 64 makes it clear that the law will not, "...affect the ability of employers to institute policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees."

"It's currently still illegal under federal law to use marijuana and until that changes, they're going to have that right," said Tvert.

And that applies to getting high at work, or at home.

Random drug tests can't determine exactly when pot was ingested, and because marijuana can remain in the human body for 30 days or longer, most employers don't care when it was consumed, they just want to know if it was consumed at all.

Consuming at home while off-duty provides no protections.

"I do think that will soon change," said Tvert. "I think private businesses are already becoming less and less interested in drug testing for marijuana. They don't want to fire qualified employees, and have to recruit, and rehire and retrain."

The Mountain States Employers Council said employers currently "hold all the cards." Experts say there should be no confusion: you could lose your job for consuming marijuana even though it will soon be legal in Colorado.

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