If You Smoke Pot Legally, Can It Affect Your Job?

Employers still hold the cards after some marijuana decriminalization.

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Let’s say you're in Washington visiting with friends in their house. You’ve just had a fine dinner and of your hosts produce a joint of marijuana. Just to be sociable, you take a puff or two.

What you did is perfectly legal in D.C. But if you're applying for a job in Virginia, can the trace of THC in your pre-employment blood test be used as reason not to hire you? Or if your firm requires random drug testing and you're selected, will you lose your job?

The answer is that employers can do whatever they want. The growing legalization of personal marijuana use is raising questions about being penalized for doing what you do that's legal. The key point is whether you have a ”right” to smoke pot.

According to the Washington Post, a test case may come from Colorado, which legalized marijuana use. In that case, a worker for a satellite-television company was fired for marijuana use. The Post says that positive drug tests have recently spiked. Seventy-one percent of employers surveyed left their drug-free requirement in place. Some even wrote tougher rules.

Washington state is mulling over the same problem. It's legalized pot, but a business newspaper reports:

“Some states have laws preventing employers from enacting policies about what their employees consume in their free time, but not Washington. Here, it’s perfectly acceptable for an employer to refuse to hire -- or even fire -- someone who smokes tobacco or drinks alcohol, even outside of work.”

And if you enjoy an occasional pot buzz, better forget about applying to the FBI for work. On its website, the FBI says that if you've used marijuana in the past three years, don’t bother applying.

I'm not a lawyer but my guess would be that laws would be needed giving individuals the right to smoke marijuana to protect them. Hey, Virginia has a "right to work" law that employers like to use to discourage labor unions. Only seems fair.

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