Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic medical-marijuana patient, along with his attorney, Michael Evans, talk about Coats' employment case in April 2013. The Colorado Supreme Court is going to review the case this summer; Coats was fired for using marijuana off the clock. (Andy Cross, Denver Post file)

Cannabist Q&A: Worker’s comp, out-of-state return purchasing, 1970’s genetics

Welcome to our Ask The Cannabist column. Clearly you have questions about marijuana, be it a legal concern, a health curiosity, a Colorado-centric inquiry or something more far-reaching. Check out our expansive, 64-question Colorado marijuana FAQ first, and if you’re still curious, email your question to Ask The Cannabist at

Hey, Cannabist!
If I am injured on the job, I must take a drug test and if I come up positive for marijuana, I may have my benefits reduced by half. Is workman’s comp changing the way they test from the current method of urinalysis to another method so people won’t be punished for consuming pot before they become injured? — Employee in Erie

Hey, Employee!
The status quo remains. There are no new changes in the area of employment and marijuana use in Colorado, including worker’s compensation. Neither Amendment 20, which concerns medical marijuana, nor Amendment 64, which is recreational marijuana, mention employment in significant detail. Both amendments basically say an employer doesn’t have to accommodate marijuana use in the workplace. So employment issues are being defined by cases going to trial.

The Colorado Court of Appeals hasn’t reviewed a marijuana worker’s compensation case specifically, but two pot-related employment cases have wound through the state courts. It was decided, in Colorado, an employee with a medical marijuana recommendation can legally be fired for a positive marijuana drug test if an employer has a no-tolerance drug policy. The Colorado Supreme Court will review a case this summer and decide whether the state medical marijuana constitutional amendment gives patients a right to marijuana.

Related: More drug testing by Colorado employers, survey shows

In both cases, we’re seeing the federal definition for marijuana trumping our state laws redefining the drug. The legal definition of marijuana is that it’s a Schedule 1 controlled substance with no known medical benefit. Agree or not with the definition, that’s what it is. Until the federal scheduling changes, cannabis will continue to be legally treated as a dangerous controlled substance.

In the future, more sensitive drug tests might be developed to measure cannabis impairment in employment situations. Denver-based medical marijuana attorney Warren Edson offers a glimpse into how this could develop. “Currently, the state has adopted the standard of 5 ng (nanograms) whole blood as the level at which an individual is allegedly intoxicated for the purposes of driving a motor vehicle. That level would probably be used to try and determine if an individual is intoxicated in the workplace.” The 5 ng level for a DUI charge, passed into law last year after much criticism of the inaccuracy of the standard to measure  actual impairment. XO

Kitchen Kush: Learn about cannabutter and canna-oils, and find many recipes like huevos tostadas, flaky vegetable tart, popcorn bars, red velvet cake and more

Hey, Cannabist!
For out-of-state purchases at a recreational shop, how long before a customer can return to the same shop for another quarter ounce? Thank you –Traveling Travis to Trapper Creek

Hey, Traveling Travis!
Geez, this is the most popular question I get asked! How much and how often can I buy more? The simple answer is when you’re almost out of your first quarter ounce, then you can go back to the same center for more.

Here’s a few relevant rules to help you stay within the legal limits. You already know purchases from out-of-state customers are limited to a quarter ounce. In Colorado, adults 21 and older may possess up to one ounce of cannabis. You have to provide a state-issued identity card verifying your age to enter a marijuana center, and the transaction is recorded on security cameras. Other than that, recreational purchases are not tracked or recorded. As long as your purchase is for personal use, you can go back and purchase again the same day. XO

Map: Colorado medical dispensaries and recreational marijuana centers

Hey, Cannabist!
I am starting to get the basics of selecting pot strains, but still find the choices a little overwhelming. A couple shops I visit have “top shelf” and “connoisseur.” A budtender told me that one is hand-trimmed and the other is machine-trimmed, which added to my confusion. Is the connoisseur really worth the higher price? Many strains have the words “kush,” “OG,” or “haze” as part of their name. Do these tell anything about the effects of the strain, or are they just fun names? Will we ever see a return of the “heirloom” strains of the ’70s, like Panama Red, Colombian Gold, and Jamaican, for those of us wanting to reminisce the good old days?
–Bewildered in Broomfield

Hey Bewildered!
I hear you! The selection of cannabis at most centers is overwhelming, and sometimes budtenders are just as overwhelming with connoisseur sales pitches that don’t simplify the point of sale. I recommend simply enjoy exploring and don’t take it too seriously.  Through experience, you’ll discover your preferences.

Plant genetics and strain names are a fun and fascinating part of cannabis culture. I asked my bud Adam Dunn for a history lesson in genetics.  He currently hosts the “The Adam Dunn Show” on every week. He began his study of cannabis genetics  by working a dream job at an Amsterdam hash museum organized by Sensi Seeds in the late 1980s and early ’90s.  

OG and Haze are both descriptions; they also indicate geographical or breeder origin. According to Dunn, Haze is a group of strains developed in the mid ’70s by the Haze Brothers. Hazes are unique long-flowering equatorial sativa-dominant strains. At one point in time, they were all but lost until Neville, a breeder from the Netherlands, revived the group. OG was originally associated with Kush from California. The initials OG meant “ocean grown” because the growers lived on the coast. Later, the name became connected with West Coast hip-hop artists like Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg and the term OG changed to “original gangster” or “original.” Now, Dunn says, OG is one of the most overused names in the industry.

Strain Theory: Check out our marijuana reviews organized by type — sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids, ditto with indicas.

Will there be a return to the cannabis strains of the ’70s?  Dunn says: “Ah yes, the good ol’ ‘daze’ of extreme sativas. We always hear of the good ol’ days with Michoacán and Thai and Colombian Gold. These are strains, due to the war on drugs, that have been all but lost. Never fear, nothing is completely lost, at least as the original people who know this flavor and high are still around.

“You can find a mix of the strains in the Haze varieties, such as Neville’s Haze, which has Mexican and Thai backgrounds.  So, if you are looking for the original genetics, feel free to try and sprout those old bag seeds as they may unlock the genetic code of a classic that will bring long-lost cannabis back in the way “Jurassic Park” brought back the long lost dinosaurs.”

Even if classic strains find a place in the modern cannabis marketplace, they won’t be exactly the same because growing and curing methods have significantly changed in 40 years.  Because of their equatorial origins, these strains are rare because they take longer to flower, so expect prices to be higher when you do find them.

By going to, and searching the strains, I found one marijuana center in Denver that grows Panama Red. Give them a call and see if it’s available. Unless you have a medical card, make sure the center is open for rec sales. XO