Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, and many others have followed. Marijuana is over a 2 Billion industry in Colorado.
Some interesting facts about marijuana legalization in Colorado.
- Marijuana traffic deaths in Colorado have increased
- Over 500 retail marijuana stores are open in Colorado
Colorado is one of the most interesting states currently when it comes to drug testing and drug-free workplace because marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use. Individuals needing a drug test for marijuana or any other type of court-ordered or employer drug testing can contact the drug screening centers in Colorado affiliated with National Drug Screening. Our affiliated drug testing facilities are open daily and testing can be set up immediately.
You can drug test yourself today with a confidential drug test which can be ordered in minutes over the phone; just call 866-843-4545. Many folks need a drug test for personal reasons or a court-ordered test. Drug testing can be simple, easy, and fast. Test for barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methadone, methaqualone, propoxyphene, alcohol, ecstasy, oxycontin, marijuana, cocaine, PCP, amphetamines & opiates. Our drug testing centers in Colorado test with a urine drug test, oral fluid drug test, and hair drug testing. Rapid drug testing or point-of-collection drug testing is also available.
How long does it take to get drug test results? Negative drug test results are typically back the next business day after specimen collection. Positive drug test results take a few days longer. Most people test for a five-panel drug test including marijuana, cocaine, PCP, amphetamines, and opiates. Some folks add barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methadone, methaqualone, and propoxyphene for a ten-panel drug test. Drug testing is done at a lab certified by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). All testing is also confirmed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/ms), which is the gold standard for drug screen confirmations. All drug test results are reviewed by a certified medical review officer.
Medical Review Officers at National Drug Screening are certified by the American Association of Medical Review Officers (AAMRO) and the Medical Review Officer certification council (MROCC).
For court-ordered testing, the drug test results can be sent directly to you or you can direct us to send your drug test results to your probation or parole officer. According to DOT regulations, all DOT drug screens must be reviewed by an MRO. Many states also require an MRO review. An MRO is a licensed M.D. with a history of substance abuse diagnostic work. This service is also available for Non-DOT testing. During the MRO’s review, it may be necessary for them to contact and speak directly with the donor to verify any types of medication the donor has taken. Every donor has an opportunity to discuss the positive drug test results with a Medical Review Officer in order to rule out the positive drug test results from the use of legal medication.
Employer Programs for a Drug-Free Workplace
In Colorado, a drug-free workplace program is important to defend a worker’s comp claim or unemployment compensation denial.
Colorado has no laws limiting drug testing and drug testing programs. There are no limits or requirements for drug testing in the workplace. Employers are not required to have a written drug policy except for unemployment and workers’ compensation purposes. Boulder, Colorado has a unique exception to this rule. Employers within the city limits of the Denver suburb are allowed to drug test employees based on “reasonable suspicion” but prior notice is required. No random testing is allowed. Post-accident drug testing is critical to the success of denying a worker comp claim. If a test comes back positive, it doesn’t necessarily mean the employee will lose all of his/her workers’ comp benefits. In order for an employer to claim a “presumption of intoxication” and thus reduce all non-medical benefits by 50%, they will need to prove that the drug test was conducted in a certified/licensed facility and that a second sample has been preserved for re-testing. Split specimen collection for the drug test is required. Medical benefits for an employee injury will always be paid.
Drug and alcohol use/intoxication can have some consequences though for any potential severance pay or unemployment benefits. Testing positive for drug or alcohol usage can disqualify an employee from receiving unemployment compensation. Employees can get these benefits restored though if they provide documentation that they are attending a drug treatment program.
In Colorado, a drug-free workplace program is important to defend a worker’s comp claim or unemployment compensation denial. Colorado has a law providing significant workers comp benefits to employers. There is a presumptive 50% reduction of “nonmedical benefits” (presumption of intoxication) if certain test levels are met. (0.10 alcohol–positive drug (split sample required)). Colorado has an unemployment law providing no payment shall be chargeable to the employer if the employee was separated from employment for distribution of intoxicants or tested positive for drugs or alcohol in excess of 0.04 as established in the employer’s policy.
Colorado now has a medical marijuana law and allows marijuana for recreational use. This poses a problem for employers. Can I drug test, my employees, for marijuana? Yes, employers in Colorado can still drug test employees for marijuana. Because marijuana will continue to be outlawed at the federal level, any employer can lean on that fact as a reason to continue enforcing its drug policy.
Colorado’s law states that it “is not intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace or affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.” Similarly, the regulations implementing Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law make clear that employers are not required to offer “accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of employment.” Colorado’s Amendment 64 makes it clear that the new law does not prohibit employers from continuing to test their employees: “nothing in this section is intended … to affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.” That includes getting high at work or even after hours, according to legal experts and judicial rulings.
The bottom line is not about the law, it is about safety. Employers have an obligation to maintain a safe workplace.
Employers in Colorado should feel confident that the law is on their side. Employees smoking marijuana are subject to employer drug-free workplace programs and a positive drug test for marijuana will be a violation of policy that could lead to termination of employment.
Dish customer service employee Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic, sued Dish after the satellite-tv company fired him for testing positive for marijuana in a random drug test. Coats acknowledged that he used legal medical marijuana off-duty to help control muscle spasms but said he was never under the influence at work. Nonetheless, Dish fired him after the positive test.
In a precedent-setting decision, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the firing. The court said that since marijuana is illegal under federal law, employers can sanction their workers and are not bound by Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities statute, which otherwise prevents employers from interfering in employees’ non-work activities.
Employers in high-turnover service industries such as retail, hotels, restaurants, and casinos may be less inclined to use routine drug screenings because they already are challenged with maintaining staffing levels. This attitude will change as these employers face less productive employers, theft in the workplace, turnover, absenteeism, and more on-the-job accidents.
What About Medical Marijuana And Employee Drug Testing?
– Medical marijuana and drug-free workplace –
Of course, federal law still lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug, with no legal use; and courts around the country have upheld employers’ rights to have policies against hiring employees who smoke marijuana.
Marijuana Workplace Issues
- Employees who fall under federal guidelines such as the Department of Transportation’s testing regulations are prohibited from using marijuana in any form.
- THC is stored in the body fat and is slowly released over time. Since it is retained in the fat, an employee can test positive many days after use.
- Many employers also have work rules requiring the employee to disclose if he or she is taking any sedating medications that could impact his or her ability to work safely. This rule would apply even in states that have approved the medicinal use of marijuana.
- The use of marijuana definitely would cause fitness-for-duty concerns.
Medical and Recreational Marijuana
As you know in Colorado state laws allow medical and recreational marijuana. Under federal law, all use of marijuana is prohibited so for DOT regulated drug testing and other drug testing required by the federal government all use of marijuana is prohibited. This includes employers subject to The Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act. This act (The DFW Act) requires entities that contract with the federal government to enforce zero-tolerance policies regarding the use of illegal drugs in the workplace. Because federal contractors are subject to federal law pursuant to the terms of their contracts, and because marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law, no state law may require a federal contractor to accommodate marijuana use.
Colorado’s constitution specifically says that employers don’t have to amend their policies to accommodate employees’ marijuana use. Employees that smoke marijuana for medical reasons or recreational should carefully review their companies’ drug-free workplace policy on the use of marijuana medical, recreational, or otherwise. Your company policy may prohibit the use of marijuana on or off the job.
Colorado article xviii sec. 14 (10)(b) states: “Nothing in this section shall require any employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in the workplace.” Additionally, the Colorado amendment on recreational marijuana does not restrict employers from implementing workplace policies that restrict employee marijuana use.
ADA and Drug-Free Workplace
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require employers to allow marijuana use as a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability, even if that person is a registered medical marijuana patient. The Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit has held that “the ADA does not protect medical marijuana users who claim to face discrimination on the basis of their marijuana use.” Employers do not have to accommodate medical marijuana under the ADA because the ADA defines illegal drug use based on federal law, and so does not protect medical marijuana use.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the sixth circuit has held that “private employees are not protected from disciplinary action as a result of their use of medical marijuana, nor are private employers required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in the workplace.”
Courts are supporting the employer’s rights to maintain a drug-free workplace. Does your company really have a drug-free workplace and will your drug testing policy hold up to a lawsuit involving medical or recreational marijuana? Employers need to be careful, attorneys advise the following:
- Make sure your drug-free workplace policy is in compliance with your state laws on drug testing and discrimination against marijuana users.
- Federal regulations must be followed – DOT, ADA, and The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988
- Review and update your company’s drug-free workplace – are you prohibiting the use of marijuana – medical, recreational, and otherwise.
As each state continue to pass laws and regulations concerning medical and recreational marijuana use, employers will continue to be confronted with the need to comply with increasingly divergent state and federal law. Employers should closely monitor developments in their states and be prepared to periodically remind employees of their expectations and requirements. Is your drug-free workplace policy up to date? Colorado employers need to act now to update and revise drug-free workplace policies.
Does your policy have a statement that has the following language?
The company prohibits employees from reporting for work with an illegal drug, including marijuana (medical, recreational, or otherwise), in their system. The company conducts drug testing for marijuana and enforces this policy consistently with respect to all drugs, including marijuana (medical, recreational, or otherwise), as the law allows the company to do.
National Drug Screening can help employers to address drug abuse prevention in the workplace. A drug-free workplace policy needs a written policy, employee education, and supervisor training. A free kit is available to help employers set up and maintain a drug-free workplace. It is suitable for all sizes of workplaces. The free kit provides public and private workplaces with practical evidence-based information, resources, and tools for producing and maintaining drug-free workplace policies and programs. To learn more about implementing a drug free workplace policy, Check out our free white paper on creating your Drug Screening Policy.
Drug Test Centers in Colorado
Drug testing is available in Colorado in all areas of the state. If you need a drug test today, just make a quick phone call. National Drug Screening is affiliated with drug testing centers in Denver, Colorado Springs, Telluride, Golden, Arvada, Broomfield, Glenwood Springs, Lakewood, Castle Rock, Englewood, Westminster, Crested Butte, Winter Park, Thornton, Pagosa Springs, Lyons, Parker, Manitou Springs, Fort Collins, Aspen, Vail, Longmont, Breckenridge, Ouray, Louisville, Salida, Leadville, Montrose, Nederland, Lafayette, Gunnison, Buena Vista, Frisco, Alamosa, Commerce City, Black Hawk, Erie, Silverton, Cañon City, Boulder, Aurora, Centennial, Pueblo, Grand Junction, Estes Park, Littleton, Loveland, Durango, Greeley, and Steamboat Springs. Call today to get into one of our drug testing centers for your personal drug test.
Order a drug test now from National Drug Screening. Our drug testing facilities are available in all areas of Colorado.