Marijuana has been with us a long time. Its earliest recorded use dates back to the third millennium BC. It is estimated that 162 million people use marijuana on an annual basis, and 22.5 million use it on a daily basis. Now, 5000 years later, the citizens of the State of Colorado have legalized its use.
Or have they? And what does this mean to employers? Can employees show up to work stoned? Will we see pot brownies for sale at the grocery?
Some of the answers to these questions will have to wait, but here is what we do know:
Yes, Colorado voters approved Amendment 64. Effective December 10, 2012 anyone over 21 may possess up to one ounce of marijuana. However, federal law has not changed, and possession of the Wacky Tobacky is still against federal law.
And, even though use is legal under Colorado law, you still can’t smoke marijuana in public. Amendment 64 does not authorize driving while impaired by marijuana and an accepted level of THC in a blood stream that would label an adult to be “intoxicated” has not been legally determined.
Employers can continue to have policies against alcohol and drugs in the workplace and continue to test for their presence. Nothing in the law prohibits employers from disciplining, terminating or not hiring someone with marijuana in their system.
In regard to brownies and other possible entrepreneurial opportunities because of the passage of 502, I guess we will have to wait and see.
Like many things in HR, simple questions often require complex answers. If in doubt, ask an experienced HR person or your employment attorney.