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Experts tackle workplace pot Medical marijuana poses a challenge to employers
LONGMONT — The questions about medical marijuana are many. Just ask state lawmakers, who are grappling with the issue this session.
But the questions can be particularly acute for employers, who must weigh the safety of the workplace with the rights of employees with debilitating medical conditions to use the drug, which is Colorado law thanks to Amendment 20, passed by voters in 2000.
Employers should have policies in place, two attorneys from the Mountain States Employers Council told a group of human resource executives Thursday, because it’s not a question of “if” the issue will come up; it’s “when.”
“It will happen,” Dean Harris told a group of nearly 50 people attending a luncheon at the Radisson Conference Center hosted by the Longmont Area Human Resource Roundtable. “Any employer of any size will face this issue.”
Amendment 20 allows people with debilitating medical conditions to get checked out by a doctor, and if the doctor finds the conditions meet certain criteria, the patients can get a registry identification card that allows them to purchase marijuana for medicinal use.
But common misconceptions are that Amendment 20 legalized pot, or that a doctor “prescribes” it, Harris said.
“It cannot be prescribed in any state in the country,” Harris said, adding, “(Amendment 20) doesn’t make its use legal; it provides a defense against criminal charges.”
But the issue is a difficult one for employers. For example, if an employer fires someone for testing positive for pot, could the employer be at odds with the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The answer is no, if the employer has a clear policy in place, the attorneys said.
“You’re never going to have to accept the use of medical marijuana as a ‘reasonable accommodation,’” said Harris’ colleague, Curtis Graves.
But each case is slightly different, the attorneys said. For example, in Roe vs. TeleTech Customer Care Management, an employee was fired for testing positive at work but insisted she was smoking at home and not on the job.
Traces of marijuana can remain in the body for weeks after a person uses it, the attorneys said.
That case is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Harris said. He added that so far, all the similar lawsuits brought by employees who have been discharged for testing positive at work have been decided in favor of the employers.
Having a clear policy in place will help employers know how to deal with the issue when it comes up, the lawyers said.
“Decide in advance how you’re going to deal with the tough decisions,” Harris said.
I often wonder how employers would treat a MMJ user's positive drug screen; especially if an accident or injury was involved. These are some of the questions that keep MMJ away from my state and many others... The legislation seeks to answer all that tiny questions before considering the compassionate dispersement.
-------------------- "Let's get together and feel alright"
Wow what dickheads. There's no policy about being on vicodin or anything. But now this dangerous medical marijuana comes along. And they act like oh no now you won't be able to fire the pot smoker!! Jesus christ man he just likes pot, unless he's fucking up his job leave him be.