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Employers still control drug policies in Colorado

By Joe Dominguez, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau , j.dominguez@krdo.com
Published On: Dec 27 2013 11:29:07 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 28 2013 12:03:06 AM CST

We're just a few days away from the first retail sale of marijuana in Colorado but as that new day looms an old rule applies - the boss is still the boss.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

We're just a few days away from the first retail sale of marijuana in Colorado but as that new day looms an old rule applies - the boss is still the boss.

Several courts have weighed in on the subject when considering the use of medicinal marijuana. This past April an appellate court upheld a previous court's ruling that an employee fired after using marijuana for medical purposes was not protected under Colorado's Lawful Activities statute. The court noted that nothing considered illegal on a federal level can be protected by state law.

That means businesses still have the right to fire employees for breaking company drug policies even if they have the legal right to use marijuana.

Marijuana advocacy leaders have pushed companies to reevaluate their policies to be more tolerant of the new law.

Several companies KRDO Newschannel 13 tried to contact about this story refused to share whether or not they had done that in anticipation of the new year.

At least one small business owner said he'll continue to go with a zero-tolerance drug policy.

"It's important because I use knives and my knives are all sharp and so I don't need someone to be stoned and cutting their finger," said Jim Hendershott, who owns Billy's Old World Pizza.

Hendershott said safety, insurance premiums and customer service are some of the reasons he won't waver on his stance despite the passage of Amendment 64, opening the door for retail marijuana in Colorado.

"It's going to be rough on some employees as well as some employers," said Hendershott. "They're just not going to be able to have that freedom that they think they voted for."

Other workers don't believe the change will have a big impact where they work.

"No, I work at the Air Force Academy so there is a strict policy there," said Lydia Roux, who works as a contractor.

"I guess if you know you work for a company that does drug testing regularly, you have to make that decision on whether its more important to keep your job or smoke marijuana," said Cortney Quintero, a marketing specialist.

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