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Pot legalization complicates work policies


February 19. 2013 9:06PM
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DENVER — Pot may be legal, but workers may want to check with their boss first before they grab the pipe or joint during off hours.


Businesses in Washington state, where the drug is legal, and Colorado, where it will be by January, are trying to figure out how to deal with employees who use it on their own time and then fail a drug test.


It is yet another uncertainty that has come with pot legalization as many ask how the laws will affect them.


Police departments are especially worried. Officers take oaths to protect all laws, state and federal. In this case, pot is still prohibited under federal law.


Colorado's Lawful Off-Duty Activities law says workers can't be dismissed for legal behavior off the clock. A case pending in a state appeals court could settle the question.


The case involves Brandon Coats, a telephone operator for Dish Network. Paralyzed in a teenage car crash, he's also been a medical marijuana patient in Colorado since 2009. Coats was fired in 2010 for failing a company drug test, though his employer didn't claim he was ever impaired on the job.


Coats sued to get his job back, but a trial court dismissed his claim in 2011. Coats appealed, and the state Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case but hasn't set a date.




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