Colorado – Future of employee drug testing

Colorado – Future of employee drug testing

Excerpted from Westword article by Michael Roberts

Denver’s National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws branch is taking part in a lobbying day at the Colorado State Capitol during which lawmakers will get the chance to learn about a major element in the group’s attempt to fix drug-testing laws that put cannabis users at risk of being fired for lawful use. Specifically, they’ll be able to try out Alert Meter, which tests for impairment rather than relying on blood or fluid draws that Denver NORML sees as undependable and unfair.

“Cognitive-impairment testing or fit-for-work testing is the solution,” says Carol Setters, vice president of business development for Predictive Safety, Alert Meter’s parent company, “because it tests the brain, not the body fluids — and that’s what you want. If you want to test someone’s performance, that’s what you should be looking at.”

Last week, Denver NORML executive director Jordan Person shared with us new statutory language intended to prevent businesses from, in her words, “firing people on Wednesday for performing a lawful activity on Saturday.”

That’s what happened to Brandon Coats, whose story we’ve been covering since 2012. A paralyzed medical marijuana patient, Coats was fired by DISH for failing a drug test two years earlier even though he was never accused of having been stoned on the job and consistently received exemplary work reports. But a series of judges, including those on the Colorado Supreme Court, ruled in DISH’s favor because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Denver NORML’s new language would “amend the unlawful prohibition of legal activities as a condition of employment, to clarify that legal activities include legal activities under Colorado law, such as adult marijuana use,” Person told us. She added that the text would also amend the Discriminatory or Unfair Employment Practices act’s references to “a positive drug test for metabolites of marijuana — because that’s what they’re testing for when someone has a drug test for cannabis. And that science is so antiquated.”

Indeed, advocates have noted for years that traces of marijuana linger in the system of users for significant periods of time and can result in positive drug tests even for sober individuals. Back in 2011, Westword cannabis writer William Breathes tested nearly three times over a .5 nanogram standard being floated for driving impairment even though he’d last consumed cannabis fifteen hours earlier, prior to a full night’s sleep.

You can read the full story here.

 

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