A Colorado State legislator recently introduced a bill that would prohibit companies from firing employees in Colorado simply because they legally use marijuana during their personal time when not at work. HB20-1089 would move employers in Colorado to treat marijuana like alcohol, two substances that are legal within the state.
This proposed bill is attempting to apply some consistency to how legal substances are addressed when it comes to the employer/employee relationship. Advocates for the bill claim if a person can go home from work and have a drink, then users of marijuana should be able to do the same. Colorado state law prohibits employers from firing employees for their off-duty activities, including alcohol consumption.
This new bill will address random drug screenings involving marijuana for individuals who are already employed by an organization. It will not apply to federal employees or employees whose companies are subject to federal drug testing rules.
It is vital to understand that this new bill would also not affect how employers utilize pre-employment drug screenings. Employers will still be able to test for marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, and evaluate a candidate’s fitness for possible employment with those results.
Businesses are already voicing their concerns for this proposed bill regarding employee safety. Employers in high-risk industries still want to have the ability to exercise zero tolerance drug policies when they believe are necessary.
A Quest Diagnostics analysis released last year showed that workforce positive drug test rates were at a 14-year high nationally and that marijuana was at the top of the list from most commonly detected substances. So, how organizations, especially in states that make recreational use legal, address marijuana use amongst their employees will be a topic for continuing discussion in the years ahead. They will need to decide how important testing for marijuana is to their company and whether the negatives out-weigh the positives when it comes to their employees and business.
IntelliCorp offers a comprehensive drug screening service that provides the additional information necessary to make good hiring decisions.