Newly proposed house bill 1152 filed in Colorado would prevent employers from "adverse action against an employee based on the employee's use of marijuana," according to the Colorado General Assembly.
Colorado Law on Cannabis Consumption
Despite the fact that the consumption of cannabis is legal in Colorado, federally marijuana remains illegal.
How Is Cannabis Legal in Colorado But Illegal Federally?
The U.S. Department of Justice announced an update to its federal marijuana enforcement policy in 2013 stating:
"For states such as Colorado and Washington that have enacted laws to authorize the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana, the Department expects these states to establish strict regulatory schemes" and also create "strong, state-based enforcement efforts.... and will defer the right to challenge their legalization laws at this time."
Colorado + US Employers and Cannabis
Due to the fact that the legality of cannabis in Colorado and other states are still what some would consider a "gray area" under Federal law, most states have left testing decisions up to the individual's employer’s discretion.
However, a few states like Nevada and New Jersey, have already enacted laws that would prohibit employers from refusing employment or otherwise discriminating against those who use marijuana recreationally or medicinally.
“The whole idea is to signal to the business community and to employers that because we have legalized cannabis we should be following the same laws and rules that apply to alcohol and prescription drugs,” Representative Edie Hooton, a prime sponsor of HB 1152 stated.
The Future in Colorado for Cannabis and Employment
As most are aware, unemployment skyrocketed once the pandemic hit in 2020. Since then, employers have struggled to find eligible workers.
Supporters of HB22-1152 believe that creating a Cannabis Anti-Discrimination Employee Protection Program like other states have, would open the door for employers to find more applicants.
Under HB22-1152 an employer would be prohibited,
"from taking adverse action against an employee, including an applicant for employment, who engages in the use of:
- Medical marijuana on the premises of the employer during working hours; or
- Retail or medical marijuana off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours."
Yes, you read that right! Under HB22-1152, employees would legally be allowed to use medical marijuana at their place of employment during work hours.
Of course, there would be exceptions to those who work in fields that require them to work with heavy machinery or if the consumption of marijuana would cause an occupational hazard.
The bill was only introduced to the House on February 4 and has yet to be scheduled for its first committee hearing. You can follow the bill's status and history by following this link.
Representative Brianna Titone, one of the prime sponsors of the bill, stated:
"What people do in their spare time that doesn’t impact their work shouldn’t really be a problem for them. They should be able to enjoy the legal things that we have here in Colorado and not be penalized for it.