Two days ago, stoners in Washington settled themselves into a comfortably hazy future when pot became legal for recreational purchase in their state. Sadly, though, just because you can buy a spliff on the high street without being arrested doesn't mean you won't face repercussions. Especially when it comes to the workplace. So discovered one man who was particularly excited about Green Tuesday: Shortly after becoming the first Spokane resident to buy weed legally, Mike Boyer was fired. He has "no regrets," luckily — but what of the next person who faces the state's outdated workplace policies?
Earlier this week, Washington became the second of just two U.S. states to have approved full marijuana legalization. (The other, of course, is Colorado.) On Tuesday, 30-year-old Michael Boyer took a day off work to stand in line for 19 hours, becoming the first purchaser of legal pot in Spokane. Before he could mark it as the best day of the year, though, he got a call from his employer at Kodiak Security Services, telling him he'd have to take a drug test the next day at work — a drug test he'd definitely fail. Apparently, a client of theirs had seen Boyer featured on a TV newscast that day, holding aloft his 2 grams of Sour Kush he'd bought legally for $50.
So after 12 years as a guard with the company, Boyer was fired. For having a completely legal drug in his system. A drug that can take weeks to get out of the system. Incredibly, this is totally not against the law: Amendment 64 gives employers the power to set their own marijuana policies, and to conduct drug testing as they desire. (This was brought home particularly hard by last year's case of a quadriplegic Colorado resident who was fired for smoking his licensed medical marijuana off duty.)
"Employers hold all the cards," Curtis Grave, a staff attorney for the Mountain States Employers Council, told the Denver Post last year.
What this means is that while pot may be legal, it's still incredibly risky. If you're at a job that doesn't allow THC to be in your system, then — even if you smoke at home, responsibly, legally, and during your holiday — your employer has the power to terminate you. Your coworker who binges on vodka tonics on Sunday night and shows up to work the next day hungover and bleary-eyed? Totally safe.
“I regret nothing," Boyer wrote on a
post on Craigslist. But he added to Vocative: “I was really unaware that this might be a big deal."
Yah, well, it shouldn't be.