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Employers in Colorado, Washington Review Drug-Testing Policies

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Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, employers in those states must determine how to handle employees who fail a drug test after using the drug on their own time.

The Seattle Police Department says it is unlikely it will allow off-duty officers to use marijuana, according to the Associated Press. Sergeant Sean Whitcomb says the department may change its requirement that applicants cannot have used the drug in the previous three years.

The Denver Police Department says it has no immediate plans to change its employment rules. “Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, so officers would not under any scenario be allowed to use marijuana,” said spokesman John White. He said he was not sure about rules for pre-employment use of the drug.

Employers with federal contracts are especially concerned about how they will be impacted by the new state laws, the article notes. Some employers must conduct drug testing, including those in industries that are regulated by the Departments of Defense, Transportation and Energy.

Companies or agencies that receive federal contracts or grants, including universities that obtain funds from the Department of Education, and police agencies that receive grants from the Department of Justice, must maintain drug-free workplaces.

Boeing Co., one of Washington’s largest private employers, usually requires drug testing before employment, upon reasonable suspicion, or after an accident. According to company spokeswoman Cathy Rudolph, the Washington marijuana law will not change that policy.

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