Colorado Legislature Dismisses Proposed Employment Protection Bill

By Liz Hartsel

On Wednesday, the Colorado legislature decided not to advance a bill protecting employees from being fired for using marijuana in their personal time.

The bill aimed to make cannabis use a lawful off-duty activity since marijuana is legal under Colorado State law but still a Schedule I drug under federal law.

The bill was inspired by Brandon Coats, a medical marijuana user who was fired from Dish Network after a random drug test in 2010. In Coats v. Dish Network, the Colorado Supreme Court sided with Dish Network and unanimously ruled that a state statute referring to legal activities means activities that are legal under both state and federal law.

The bill would have changed the definition of legal activities as legal under just Colorado law.

The legislatures’ decision to not advance a bill means that an employer may still terminate an employee for using marijuana off the clock, regardless of whether the employee is impaired at work or has a prescription for medical marijuana.

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