Allowing Marijuana in the Workplace

You Asked.BlogQ: Is there any issue with allowing my employees to smoke marijuana at work on a Friday afternoon? It’s not uncommon for us to enjoy a couple beers as a department, and I don’t personally have a problem with marijuana use.  

A: It’s not a great idea. 

Like most states, Colorado has a “dram shop law” that addresses alcohol served in a social setting. In a nutshell, it states that you can’t be sued when a person drinks too much in your home or at your non-alcohol-related business and then injures someone, unless they are under 21 and you supplied them with alcohol or a place to drink it.

This section of Colorado law protects your business when you have a social event (unless you’re serving alcohol to under-21 employees). It provides much more protection to the social host than it does an innkeeper in the business of serving alcohol. Not only must the innkeeper refrain from selling alcohol to patrons under 21 years old, but also to anyone visibly intoxicated. If the innkeeper should serve a visibly intoxicated patron who then goes on to injure a third party, the innkeeper could be liable. 

But what do you suppose happens when one of your employees leaves your business under the influence of marijuana and causes a car accident on the way home? The short answer is, no one knows, but you may very well be sued. That possibility is more than enough justification for you not to allow marijuana use at your place of business, at least until the law evolves to provide employers with greater legal protection. 

These materials are general in nature not to be construed as the rendering of legal or management advice. Send your questions to cgraves@msec.org. Please tell us if you would prefer your identity not be mentioned in our answer.