(Joshua Polson, The Greeley Tribune)

More than half of northern Colorado businesses fire employees who test positive for weed

John Rotherham wants his employees to smoke weed.

Rotherham, owner of the Nature’s Herbs and Wellness pot shop in Garden City, said trying the marijuana products allows his employees to better assist their customers, whether that’s making recommendations for first-timers or describing the effects of the products to not-so-first-timers.

Rotherham said his employees shouldn’t be noticeably stoned when on the clock, but lighting up off the clock ultimately makes them better employees.

Ron Wildeman, branch manager at Norfolk Iron and Metal, leads employees who operate heavy machinery on a daily basis. As a result, Norfolk employees undergo random drug tests after an initial pre-employment drug test. If their results are positive, for weed or any other sort of illicit drugs, they lose their jobs. Wildeman said that’s for their safety, as Norfolk believes operating a chainsaw while stoned is probably not a good idea.

These two companies are extreme examples, yet they demonstrate the wide range of responsibilities businesses assign to their employers. Sometimes operating in a state where pot is legal doesn’t matter, but many other times it’s a challenge. Five years after pot was legalized, a recent study conducted by Mountain States Employers Council found nearly 70 percent of organizations in northern Colorado have some sort of drug testing policy, and almost all of them still test for pot. The study also showed more than half of employers fire employees for a positive test, even after the first offense.

This means employees still can be fired for smoking pot even though it’s legal in Colorado.

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