Labor Secretary hands-off on legal pot and employee drug tests

4:15 PM, Jan 3, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - In an exclusive interview with 9NEWS Friday, US Labor Secretary Tom Perez declined to offer an opinion on Colorado's law, which allows legal sales of recreational pot while also allowing employers to terminate workers who fail drug tests for marijuana.

"I have not studied that issue at all," Perez told 9NEWS.

Unlike blood tests used by law enforcement to determine how high a user is, employers more commonly subject workers to urine testing, a method that can detect prior use of the drug long after the user has sobered up.

"Colorado ... is the first place to have these new laws in place," Perez said. "New laws of this nature require employers and employees alike to ask an assortment of questions in the implementation process and I'm confident that that is underway right now."

The law allowing employers to continue drug testing was written into the state constitution when the voters of Colorado passed Amendment 64 in 2012.

It was viewed as a way to allay fears in the business community over legalization of pot, and may very well have prevented some money from flowing to the opposition campaign.

A reversal in the policy would likely require another statewide vote to amend the constitution, or court intervention.

Secretary Perez said he wasn't in a position to opine on whether the current Colorado law is unfair to employees, or a sensible way to minimize the impact of legalized pot on business.

"I'm confident that people will be looking at the issues that you've raised and figure out what the appropriate interventions, if any, are, moving forward," Perez said.

Perez also spoke at length with 9NEWS on his push for an extension in long-term unemployment benefits, a fight that's about to take center stage in Congress.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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