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Legal Marijuana: Can Pilots, Cops, Pro Athletes Now Toke Up?


Colorado governor John Hickenlooper says, "Don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."

"The NFL has a policy against substance abuse," McAllister says. "I believe those people will have all sorts of problems; if they don't like it, maybe they shouldn't work there."

Proven Success

Regardless of how individual employers may view the latest wrinkle in state drug laws, Mason Tvert maintains that Colorado's success in handling medical marijuana will elicit an even hand from Washington, DC, going forward.

"We already have a system of medical marijuana in place, with hundreds of legal, state-regulated business operating across Colorado," Tvert says. "The federal government has largely respected our state's regulation of medical marijuana, we expect they'll do the same when it comes to the regulation of marijuana across the board."

Indeed, Colorado's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division has a rigorous system in place. Each step of the growing process is monitored by video cameras, all shipments must be weighed and tracked, and each state marijuana worker must be licensed.

"The thing that Colorado really has going for it is that there is already a high level of comfort and familiarity with the state licensing, taxing and regulating the above-ground distribution of marijuana," Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told addiction and recovery site The Fix. "People had become accustomed to the notion that this can be a source of tax revenue, and that police can play a role in insuring effective regulation rather than just arresting anyone they could."

The Revenues Are Real

Estimates from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy peg annual tax revenues and savings on law enforcement at roughly $60 million per year. Additionally, there would be a 15% excise tax on wholesale marijuana transactions, with the first $40 million set aside for public school construction.

Still, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper describes marijuana legalization as "a complicated process," saying, "don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."

What's next?

"I imagine the answer is that it will be decided in the courts," Andy Gaus, director of MassCann/NORML, tells me. "Somebody will say 'I've been wrongly terminated from my job for doing something that is not illegal or an offense of any kind. And they'll have the law, at least partially, on their side. But I believe this will go state by state, court by court, judge by judge."

The truth is, nobody knows. Yet.

"It'll be interesting to see what feds are going to do," Sean McAllister tells me. And I need to stop trying to predict things now, so…we'll see."

In the meantime, Frontier Airlines' job application states that applicants must submit to drug screening. However, at least one Frontier flight attendant is arguing that the tests, as they are currently devised, can yield false positives. In fact, at least one Delta (NYSE:DAL) flight attendant has been reinstated -- and won a $400,000 jury award -- when a court determined that the tests got her fired.

Follow Justin Rohrlich on Twitter: @chickenalaking
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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