Legal marijuana sparks liability fears for Colorado employers

DENVER, Colorado - Marijuana legalization in Colorado put business owners like Dottie Peterson in a quandary.

Peterson doesn't want workers at the staffing service she operates to use marijuana on the job, though she doesn't mind if they do it in their free time. But she can't hire drug users because of her insurance. Many companies, including hers, get better worker's compensation insurance rates by being a drug-free workplace, so the new employees she hires must pass drug tests.

"The sticky wicket is magnified because it is legal," Peterson said at a recent Colorado Staffing Association luncheon at a Dave and Buster's restaurant near a Denver highway exchange.  "Some employees say, 'But it's legal.' But it's not legal if you are declaring yourself a drug-free workplace under federal law."

Bob Bidwell and Dottie Peterson of the Colorado Staffing Association hash out how marijuana legalization has affected hiring at a May...

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