DENVER (KDVR) — New allowances keep marijuana convictions from squashing Colorado employment, but a bill to fully block employers from prohibiting marijuana is still in the works.
Gov. Jared Polis moved to protect Colorado workers from marijuana-related workplace penalties in a new executive order issued on July 14, capping a string of legal updates designed to comply with widespread marijuana legalization.
Through the measure, Polis orders state regulators to create policies that protect workers from professional discipline or disqualification for any marijuana-related penalty in another state, “so long as the actions are lawful and consistent with professional conduct and standards of care” in Colorado.
In Colorado, national marijuana arrests could potentially affect thousands. The Centennial State has been a migration hub since 2015, attracting one of the highest influx rates among U.S. states between 2010 and 2020. A Data Desk analysis of U.S. Census data found that 60% of Colorado residents migrated here from elsewhere.
Since 1995, there have been 17.5 million marijuana arrests made nationally.
Arrests have fallen since legalization campaigns started yielding results in 2012 beginning with Washington and Colorado. Authorities only made 350,150 marijuana arrests nationwide in 2020, down from a high of 872,000 in 2007.
While Polis’ action may stop employers from refusing employment based on out-of-state marijuana charges, employers can test for and ban marijuana use. HB22-1152 would keep employers from doing so, but legislators took no action on the bill during the most recent session.
Colorado has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of marijuana users of working age.
One in five Colorado residents over the age of 18 used marijuana in the past month in 2020, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Only Vermont and Oregon had higher rates of regular adult marijuana use.