What Does Legal Marijuana in Colorado Mean For Oklahomans?
With the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado many Oklahomans have been asking what this means for them. After all, if it is legal in Colorado, it is okay for people to visit Colorado, use marijuana and then come back to Oklahoma right? Not exactly. If you are not careful, you might find yourself in legal trouble when you get back from Colorado.
While Colorado legislation has made recreational marijuana usage legal, Oklahoma moved in the opposite direction in 2013. In 2013, the Oklahoma legislature passed HB 1441 and Governor Mary Fallin signed it into law. The law makes driving with any detectable quantity of THC or its metabolites in your blood a crime. The problem for anyone who is legally consuming marijuana in Colorado is that even though marijuana only effects a person for 3 to 4 hours, the THC and its metabolites can stay in a person’s system for up to 30 days. See the issue?
So if a person legally smoke marijuana on Monday and then drives back to Oklahoma on Wednesday they could be arrested for DUI Drugs as soon as they entered the State of Oklahoma. The law is so strict that the prosecution doesn’t even have to prove that you were actually intoxicated. It is written in law that a person who drives with any THC or THC metabolites in their blood is driving under the influence.
These laws have been passed in other states. Georgia passed a similar law many years ago. That law was ultimately ruled unconstitutional by Georgia’s Supreme Court. However, until the Oklahoma or United States Supreme Court rules on the Oklahoma law, it is still in power. This means that if you are going to travel to Colorado and partake in the legal marijuana use, you need to have a driver when you get back to Oklahoma until you have no trace of marijuana in your system.
Federal Law – Marijuana is Still Illegal
Just because the State of Colorado has made recreational marijuana use legal does not mean it is completely legal. Federal law still bans the possession, use, trafficking, manufacturing, etc. of marijuana. Therefore, even though you won’t be prosecuted in Colorado for using, growing, or selling marijuana (as long as you follow Colorado law) you could still be prosecuted under Federal law. It is yet to be seen whether or not the federal government will prosecute anyone in Colorado under federal law. However, if history is any prediction of what will happen, it is more than likely that someone will be prosecuted. The Obama administration has already prosecuted and closed down medical marijuana dispensaries in California. The marijuana dispensaries in California were only for medicinal purposes and the Obama administration closed them down and prosecuted the proprietors. Since Colorado is now selling recreational marijuana, it is logical to assume that it is only a matter of time until the Obama administration arrests and prosecutes owners of a marijuana dispensary.
Even though marijuana is now legal for recreational use in Colorado, many people may find that they are not able to obtain jobs or keep jobs if they engage in recreational marijuana usage. Colorado is what is considered an “at-will” employment state. This means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all as long as the reason does not violate a protected class (race, sex, etc.). Marijuana smoking is not a protected class. Therefore, if your employer does not want you smoking marijuana, then you could be fired, even though you were engaging in legal conduct in Colorado.
Additionally, many employers have a prohibition on hiring anyone who has engaged in past illegal conduct. Jobs with the post office, law enforcement, court systems, and professional memberships (lawyers, doctors, CPAs, etc.) can all be restricted based on past criminal conduct. As mentioned above, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Therefore, even though people are legally using marijuana under Colorado law, they could be disqualifying themselves from future employment without even thinking about it currently.
For an Oklahoma considering traveling to Colorado to engage in recreational marijuana usage, the coast is not entirely clear. Anyone coming to Oklahoma after legally smoking marijuana in Colorado could still find themselves subject to a DUI Drug charge in Oklahoma. Furthermore, anyone who ‘legally’ uses marijuana in Colorado could still find themselves fired from a job or unable to land a job because marijuana is still illegal in federal law. The moral of the story; use your own discretion. If you are not too concerned about the potential consequences listed above, then enjoy. But, if a DUI Drug charge, unemployment, or federal prosecution concern you, you might want to sit this one out so that your life and dreams don’t go up in smoke.
If you are facing charges relating to DUI Drugs or marijuana use, possession, or otherwise, give us a call at: (918) 221-3991. We can help you though this difficult situation and get you back to your normal life.