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Will legal marijuana use lead to discrimination at work?

Colorado has been the focus of many news reports in the last few weeks, as much has been made of the fact that marijuana is now available for purchase by consumers solely for recreational use. The legalization of this type of marijuana use was big news when it happened, but now that the actual implementation of the legalization effort has begun, there are many people who are wondering how marijuana use will impact the workforce in Colorado.

There are some employees who may fear that they will be the subject of discrimination because of their choice to use marijuana for recreational purposes. Indeed, employment discrimination lawsuits are expected to be a big part of the effort to craft a societal response to the legalization of a drug that has for decades been illegal throughout the country. But do employees really have ground to stand on if they are fired because of their marijuana use? According to a recent report, the answer may be "No."

The reports indicate that employers can still craft employment policies and procedures that prohibit the use of marijuana by employees. But, these prohibition policies may vary in effect. For instance, some employers may simply make it a violation to use marijuana while at work - similar to the vast majority of employers in America who prohibit alcohol consumption by employees who are on the job. But these same employers may not care if marijuana is used in off-work hours.

However, there will be some employers who continue to prohibit marijuana use by their employees at any time. Many employers use random drug tests to make sure employees aren't violating employer policies, and this is likely to continue at some jobs in Colorado.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "High Times in Colorado? Not If You Want to Keep Your Job.," Melissa Korn, Dec. 27, 2013

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