Understanding Colorado’s marijuana law and its effects on business

August 28, 2017

In Colorado, legal marijuana sales started on January 1, 2014. The passing of Amendment 64, which legalized the consumption of marijuana by adults 21 or older as long as it wasn’t consumed “openly and publicly” or in a way that puts others in danger, has leaders across the nation talking about its potential  effects on business.

Given this, we thought we would address some common misperceptions about how the business community and the workforce of our state will be affected.

Fact: Employers retain the right to have a zero tolerance policy in the workforce

A collective misunderstanding is that now that the law has passed, this means that people will be able to smoke marijuana anywhere at any time, including employees off the clock. Amendment 64 says it doesn’t “require an employer to permit or accommodate the use” of marijuana “in the workplace or affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.”

Businesses in Colorado have the right and the backing of the law to enact zero tolerance policies for their employees. In fact, in the past year, the court has upheld the firings of two employees from different companies who tested positive for marijuana. While both employees were not under the influence of marijuana at work, the rulings concluded that because marijuana is illegal under federal law, employees have no protection to use it at any time, and that employees still need to follow an employer’s standard policy against employee misconduct. The bottom line: Employers are still in control.

Fact: Marijuana and Colorado’s economy

There are two sides to every coin and the same goes for opinions on how marijuana will affect Colorado’s economy: proponents say it will help Metro Denver’s economy, while opponents say it will hurt business attraction to the region. The fact of the matter is that we don’t anticipate that it will help or hurt our economy.

Colorado’s  economy is already one of the strongest in the nation, expanding in almost every industry sector. And while the marijuana industry in Colorado might see development, it still won’t compete in economic output with our strongest industries including aerospace, bioscience, financial services, and energy.

In response to those who say the industry will hurt our economy, we have rules in place to protect our businesses from any negative effects of the expanding marijuana industry. In addition, it’s been widely covered in the news that businesses move to where there is a strong workforce. Not only do we have the second most highly-educated workforce in the nation behind Massachusetts, but Colorado is one of the top destinations in the nation for relocating employees ages 25-to-44 years old.

The Ultimate Fact: Colorado is one of the best states in the nation for business and this new law will not hinder us in ensuring our state is poised for continued success, especially when it comes to supporting and expanding our core industries.

Question: Implication of Marijuana on Children and Teens

The government has put the laws in place to protect from underage use; however, parents are also responsible in discussing with their children the risks involved for a developing mind if one smokes marijuana. Amendment 64 pertains to adults aged 21 and over.