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Oklahoma employers can enforce anti-drug policies on workers who smoke pot in Colorado

Adam Childers, co-chair of Crowe & Dunlevy's labor & employment practice group, discusses the impact of Colorado's new marijuana laws on Oklahoma's workplace.
by Paula Burkes Modified: January 22, 2014 at 6:27 pm •  Published: January 22, 2014

Q&A with Adam Childers

Employers can enforce anti-drug policies on pot-smoking workers

Q: How does the legalization of marijuana in Colorado impact Oklahoma employers?

A: The new year has ushered in a brand new era in Colorado. This is a result of Colorado voters passing Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution by a 55 to 45 percent margin, making Colorado one of the first states in the nation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. In case you haven't noticed, this has generated a lot of media coverage, as pundits scramble to predict the consequences of this trailblazing law. Many of these commentators are hazarding guesses about what this law will mean for employers in other states. The question most often asked has been: “What happens when an employee legally gets high in Colorado and then returns home to a state in which pot use remains illegal? In such a situation, can an employer still enforce its drug-testing policy based on the legally purchased cannabis in the employee's system?”

The short answer is yes. Marijuana possession and use remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act and Oklahoma state law. The U.S. attorney's office has stated that the U.S. Department of Justice's enforcement of the marijuana laws remains unchanged. This means that even with the passage of Amendment 64, recreational marijuana use will not be copacetic in Oklahoma anytime soon, nor will it keep Oklahoma employers from enforcing their anti-drug policies.

Q: Do Oklahoma companies need to update or change their workplace drug policies?

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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