Pubdate: Thu, 01 Oct 2015
Source: Albany Democrat-Herald (OR)
Copyright: 2015 Lee Enterprises


Today, Oregon's experiment with legalizing recreational marijuana 
marks another milestone  a green-letter day, if you will: Today is 
the first day that people over 21 can buy recreational marijuana.

Well, not in Albany, or in Linn County, where governmental entities 
have opted against allowing the early sales of recreational pot by 
medical marijuana dispensaries.

But the curious should be able to travel across the Willamette River 
to a dispensary in Corvallis that will be more than willing to sell 
them recreational pot. (Don't light up until you get back home, though.)

In fact, there's something else you may want to consider before you 
light up, and it's something that has been generally ignored in the 
run-up to the start of legal recreational marijuana sales: Even 
though recreational use of marijuana is legal in Oregon, your 
employer still might be inclined to fire you for violating the 
drug-use policy at work.

Employers with strong anti-drug policies haven't shown much 
inclination to roll back those policies, even after Ballot Measure 91 
paved the way for legalization. In fact, some employers might have 
taken this opportunity to review and renew their drug polices to try 
to get out in front of legalization. Before you light up, it may be a 
good idea to check with your employer about the drug policy in your workplace.

And you might want to keep a couple of additional points in mind: If 
you're thinking there's no harm in indulging in a weekend puff or 
two, remember that tetrahydrocannabinol (you know it better as THC, 
the active ingredient in pot), can linger in the body for weeks. In 
that regard, it's not like alcohol, which the body metabolizes in a 
matter of hours. So, consider this hypothetical: You light up on 
Saturday. On Thursday, for some reason, you're compelled to submit to 
a drug test. There's a good chance that the drug test will detect 
some THC in your body, at which point your employer can fire you if 
that's what the drug policy allows.

Actually, this isn't a hypothetical: This is exactly how it played 
out for Cyd Maurer, a former weekend news anchor at Eugene's KEZI 
television station. She got into a minor accident while on assignment 
for the station, and was ordered to undergo a drug test, as required 
by corporate policy. She said she was not under the influence when 
she went to work that day, although she admitted to consuming 
cannabis within a week of the accident.

It made no difference: The drug test revealed THC. She had violated 
the company's drug policy. She was fired.

Don't expect the courts to offer much redress to fired workers; 
judges in a number of states consistently have sided with employers.

A fascinating issue lurks just offstage here: While we have 
relatively reliable ways to determine when someone is under the 
influence of alcohol, no such measurement yet exists to determine 
when someone is under the influence of marijuana. (Drug tests will 
measure whether THC is in your system, not whether you're impaired.)

For the time being, though, you might be well-advised to be cautious 
about that first puff of legalized recreational pot.

Unless you hate your job. (mm)
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom