Voters in Colorado approved adult use marijuana legalization in November of 2012 and retail sales began New Year’s Day 2014. Since then, a lot has changed in the state as many people adjust to a new era. One major adjustment is the way in which business owners who are not in the legal cannabis industry treat prospective and current employees.
With Colorado’s unemployment level at a low 2.3%, those looking for workers are finding that they must be a little more lenient than in years past. “We’re finding that for employers, it’s such a tight labor market, that they can’t always afford to have a zero-tolerance approach to somebody’s off-duty marijuana use,” said Curtis Graves, information resource manager for the Mountain States Employers Council.
In other words, some business owners are no longer making off-hours marijuana use a disqualifying factor in someone’s employment. With so few workers available, many owners can’t afford to bar a large portion of the working population just because they might smoke some weed when they get home, as opposed to getting drunk.
“If you disqualified every person because of the use of marijuana, we would end up not having very many candidates to choose from,” said J Bretz, who runs a roofing company near Denver. He said that positive tests for drugs like cocaine and heroin are still an automatic disqualification.
Colorado’s legalization measure – Amendment 64 – specifically allowed employers to test for marijuana, and cannabis remains illegal on a federal level, which can open a business up to some legal issues. But that matters little to an employer who is desperately searching for people to keep their company up and running.
In an era when alcohol use rarely affects one’s job unless you’re just too drunk to get there on time or perform your duties, it’s not hard to envision a time when that would be true with marijuana. As long as you are reliable and do your job well, your employer has no reason to worry about whether you use cannabis or not. In the coming years, more and more companies will cease to make marijuana use an issue and will stop testing for it in drug screenings.
And when you think about it, the fact is that cannabis use should never have been an issue in the first place. No matter what your job, what does it matter if you smoked a joint the night before? How would something like that affect your performance the following day? How would marijuana being in your blood or urine affect your job at all?