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Legalization Of Marijuana In Colorado And Washington Leads To Massive Workplace Confusion

Following the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, both employers and employees are hit with waves of confusion over how to proceed now with their drug policies and whether or not to conduct a workplace drug test.

The Seattle Police Department is especially facing a dilemma, as they are required to enforce all state and federal laws. In the case of marijuana, they are now encountering a situation in which federal and state laws contradict one another. Sergeant Sean Whitcomb did say, however, that it is not likely that officers will be permitted to use marijuana in their free time. That being said, some consideration is being given to easing the requirement that officers abstain from marijuana use three years prior to employment by the department.

In Denver, Police Spokesman John White said that the department does not intend to change its policies regarding marijuana use. Since the drug is still forbidden by federal law, it matters not to the Denver police that it happens to be legal on the state level. White was unable to comment regarding marijuana use prior to employment.

Police officers aren’t the only ones affected by confusion. A group of businesses has written a letter to the White House asking for clarification, and Mark Latimer of Associated Builders and Contractors (Rocky Mountain chapter) has expressed his concern about the uncertainty.

In general, each business is determining its own approach to the unique situation. The grey areas are huge, and policies can change from workplace to workplace. Denver’s Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, for example, do not intend to change their drug policy due to the fact that it was written with all legal drugs in mind; now that marijuana is legal, it would therefore be covered by the existing policy.

Residents of both states should check with their employers before making any rash decisions, which in the worst scenario could cost them their jobs.