Legalization Complicates Drug-Free Work Policies
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Legalization Complicates Drug-Free Work Policies
Posted by CN Staff on December 07, 2012 at 12:24:18 PT
By Kristen Wyatt & Gene Johnson, Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
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.
“There’s just an incredible amount of gray right now” about how marijuana legalization affects employers, said Sandra Hagen Solin of the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, a coalition of chambers of commerce.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.The Seattle police department is reviewing its policies on drug use by officers or prospective officers, spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said, adding that it’s unlikely off-duty officers will be allowed to use pot. The department might ease its requirement that applicants not have used marijuana in the previous three years.The Denver police department is reviewing Colorado’s marijuana law, which goes into effect in January. The department has no immediate plans to change employment practices, spokesman John White said. “Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, so officers would not under any scenario be allowed to use marijuana,” White said. White wasn’t sure about pre-employment marijuana use.Other employers, especially those with federal contracts, are concerned what the new laws mean for them. One group of Colorado businesses has pleaded for clarity in a letter to the White House, which hasn’t said if it would sue to block the law. “The uncertainly created will cause havoc for our members and hamper their efforts to maintain drug-free worksites,” wrote Mark Latimer, head of the Rocky Mountain chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors.The havoc Latimer refers to is confusion over a law passed with cigarette smokers in mind. 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. The judge agreed with Dish Network that medical marijuana use isn’t a “lawful activity” covered by the law. Coats appealed, and the state Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case but hasn’t set a date.According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than half the states have laws that protect workers who smoke cigarettes off the clock. Colorado’s law extends to all legal activities, though Washington state doesn’t have a similar statute.“If you’re doing it at home and it’s not illegal and it’s not impairing your work performance, you should be protected,” said Coats’ lawyer, Michael Evans.Some employers are required by law to conduct drug testing, including in industries regulated by the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Energy and Defense. In other cases, companies or agencies that receive federal grants or contracts, including universities that get money from the Department of Education and police agencies that obtain grants from the Department of Justice, are required to maintain drug-free workplaces.One of Washington’s biggest private employers, The Boeing Co., generally requires drug tests before employment, upon reasonable suspicion or after accidents. The Washington measure won’t change any of that, said company spokeswoman Cathy Rudolph. “The safety and integrity of our operations, products and services is paramount,” she said in an email.For companies like Boeing without random or regular drug testing, it’s not entirely clear how such policies can be enforced.Some lawyers are encouraging companies to take stock of their drug policies. “This is a good time for employers to revisit their policies and make sure they’re still consistent with what they want to do, and to talk with their employees about what the policies are,” said Mark Berry, an employment lawyer.Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a Denver-based chain with locations in the two states, has no plans to revisit its drug policy. Spokesman Kevin Caulfield said the policy already covers legal drugs, such as prescription medication. Marijuana would be treated the same, he said. “If a drug is legal, as long as it’s not abused or misused, it would not be something covered by the policy,” Caulfield said.Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Kristen Wyatt and Gene Johnson, Associated Press Published:  December 7, 2012Copyright: 2012 The Associated PressCannabisNews  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #13 posted by afterburner on December 09, 2012 at 13:26:29 PT
Peter Lewis- Progressive Insurance Supported Legal
If the insurance man thinks cannabis is safer in the workplace and on the road than alcohol, people should listen.
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on December 09, 2012 at 09:34:10 PT
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on December 09, 2012 at 09:28:29 PT
Sorry, but there's still the stench of slavery about all this.Does big money, insurance companies, big prescription drug companies with powerful, rich people on the board, and what pathetic little industry we have that isn't moved to some country where they can find less uppity slaves, want to have free people do the labor, and thinking, and key pushing and waiting on them that makes their big picture, their dream fall into place... or do they want slaves? People they actually own? People that they run way too much of the private aspects of their lives? I know. They want slaves. But they can't have them. Americans don't like being slaves. 
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on December 08, 2012 at 15:21:20 PT
I agree with you.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on December 08, 2012 at 15:04:48 PT
It should mean
they have to stop firing people for having cannabis metabolites in their systems.... at the very least.
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on December 08, 2012 at 15:01:24 PT
Sorry about interrupting this conversation.
The situation this new legality puts employers that drug test in?They need to go by how well a person does his or her job and if something comes up and it's critical to check a person's blood content it's one thing. I'm sure insurance companies will have it as a matter of dispute for a long time. Otherwise, stay out of people's body fluids, hair, and blood. Stay out of their private lives.Are they doing their job in a satisfactory manner? Let them do it in peace and treat them with some respect.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on December 08, 2012 at 09:55:37 PT
I just finished posting it. Now we are talking a little with this article.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on December 08, 2012 at 09:47:16 PT
Christian Science Monitor
Obama's other option on pot: Legalize it for everyone?
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on December 08, 2012 at 08:42:06 PT
They are confused because that don't want to see the solution. The solution is simple. Legalize marijuana, let people grow a few plants for themselves and the problem is solved. No more confusion.
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Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on December 08, 2012 at 06:53:18 PT
the next progression of propaganda
seems to be "confusion". We're just SO "confused" about all this! Funny, there doesn't seem to be any "confusion" over Benadryl, or Robitussin, or the other over-the-counter meds that can render you too intoxicated to drive or work properly.Doesn't seem to be any "confusion" or trepidation over alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs and the workplace, with all of those substances being more unhealthy and/or addictive than cannabis.
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on December 08, 2012 at 05:03:09 PT
Clear discrimination.
If a person can go to the booze monger and buy a case of whiskey and gulp it after work,it's clearly discrimination to terminate a responsible adult for smoking the relatively safe, God-given superplant.That form of discrimination will end.
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Comment #2 posted by legalizeit on December 07, 2012 at 19:28:10 PT
The times are changing; change with the times
These employers need to quit whining and start getting used to the new way things are. Their tyrannical "drug-free workplace" policies have unfairly limited what employees do on their own time for years. They can be just as drug-free with legal pot as they are alcohol-free now despite readily available booze.If the distrust of employees known as drug testing is to continue to be a cornerstone of corporate and government policy despite the gradual but inevitable legalization of cannabis, the tests need to evolve past the current crude tests for metabolites of something long ago used, and be replaced with tests that actually measure impairment. Far better would be to abolish drug testing and its inherent labeling of people as 'drug abusers' unless they can prove the contrary with a sample of their excrement.Shame on Dish. They have no business drug testing a telephone operator. Even if he was blitzed at work (unlikely if he was already known to his employers as a MMJ patient), how would he put anyone at risk?
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on December 07, 2012 at 13:20:16 PT
Legalization is giving us our freedom back,
from the nanny state, pie in a cup mentality, fascism and tyranny and torture!
Legalize it in the entire country and world!
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