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Colorado Introduces Law to Protect Employees Who Consume Cannabis

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To kick off the new legislative session, Colorado lawmakers proposed a bill that would protect employees’ right to consume cannabis when they aren’t on the clock at their jobs.

According to The Denver Post, House Rep. Jovan Melton, a Democrat from Aurora, introduced this bill so that employers can’t fire people for engaging in legal activities when they aren’t on company time. Those backing the bill are expected to need to make compromises for it to pass, but if it does go through, it could change the game for cannabis and employment.

“It was just a glaring gap that we have here in the statute, especially when we’re supposed to regulate marijuana like we are with alcohol,” Melton said. “If someone’s able to drink while they’re at home and on their free time, as long as they’re not coming into work intoxicated, then they’re not penalized with their employment.”

Much of the precedent for this bill is based on the Coats v. Dish Network case in Colorado, in which employee Brandon Coats was fired by Dish after he failed a drug test. He used medical cannabis for seizures and never used cannabis during work hours. Advocates claim that being fired for cannabis isn’t fair when it’s as legal to use as alcohol within the state.

If this bill passes, it would clarify the definition of legal activities in Colorado to include state law, not just federal law, so it would be perfectly legal to smoke cannabis off the clock. It still would not apply to federal employees.

Colorado lawmakers have been known to take a supportive stance on cannabis use, as they recently ruled that people on probation can use medical cannabis, and officials are even considering a delivery program. This would be another way to make cannabis in Colorado even more progressive.

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