LETTER: Employers vs. pot: Impossible situation
Attorneys like Ms. Ryan [Kimberlie Ryan, a Denver attorney who specializes in employment law, spoke at an Aspen seminar held by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws] are creating an impossible situation for employers in medical marijuana states. OSHA regulations require that we maintain a safe, drug-free workplace. Drug testing is a way to maintain that safety. If we are not allowed to use the results of those tests, we are opened up to huge lawsuits from other employees and members of the public.
Standard drug testing is done through urine tests. The only way to legally measure THC levels is through blood testing. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems like most employers couldn’t require an invasive test like this. Even if an employee submits to a blood draw, it is extremely difficult and expensive to set up that type of test.
Imagine a situation where an employee tests positive, but his employer is not allowed to terminate him. If he is later involved in a vehicle accident, the employer could reasonably be held liable for his injuries as well as anyone else he injured.
Marijuana probably does have a limited usefulness in medical treatment, and employees should have some legal protection when lawfully using it. That said, the safety of the public in general should come first. Employers need to have some protection as well. When the law allows you to be sued no matter which direction you choose, something is wrong.
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