LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Even if you are visiting from out-of-state, it doesn't matter. If you're at least 21 years old, you can buy a quarter-ounce of marijuana legally in Colorado. But you'll have to stay there to eat it or smoke it. Your Rocky Mountain (legal) High won't fly as an alibi for failing your company's pre-employment or random drug-screening back in Kentucky or Indiana.
"A Kentucky employee could be fired for that," said Bryan Armstrong, a Louisville attorney who handles cases involving labor disputes and allegations of wrongful discharge. "Kentucky law is so tilted for employers that an employee can be fired for something as trivial as an employer not liking their haircut."
But State Sen. Perry Clark (D-Jefferson County) is hopeful that Colorado's legalized regulation of marijuana will renew the buzz for Kentucky lawmakers to pass a bill that's died twice in committee.
"I don't think anything is gonna stop a company from drug-testing," said Clark. "But medicinal use is unstoppable with marijuana."
Clark's bill would permit the growing of marijuana in "a secure, locked facility" for medicinal use; no more than five ounces per permit. Felony convictions would disqualify.
An eligible "patient" would include those suffering from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, AIDS or HIV, hepatitis C, and so-called wasting diseases that weaken appetites.
"If it comes out of the Senate, I believe we could pass it in the House," said Rep. Tom Burch (D-Buechel), chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee, "because a lot of the members are under 60."
Burch has scheduled a committee hearing for January 9. Republicans hold the majority in the Kentucky Senate, but Burch claims that at least one Senate Republican, whom he won't name, supports the legislation.
"I believe we can get it out of committee," said Burch. "I don't know how it'll fare over there (the Senate)."
Medicinal marijuana can't come to Kentucky soon enough for Jaime Montalvo, a Louisville single father who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
"I want to medicate myself," Montalvo said."But not at the cost of leaving my son alone." Custody restrictions prevent Montalvo from taking his child with him, should he opt to travel to Colorado.
Montalvo also is on probation; the result of a marijuana conviction for "self-medicating."
Montalvo maintains that Colorado's referendum and the medicine movement will prompt employers to reconsider how they deal with marijuana use among staffers. Montalvo said he tested positive for marijuana when a former employer screened him for drug use. But the company weighed other factors in his favor.
"They didn't check for it when they hired me," Montalvo said. "I did good work, and they accepted that. They let it be."
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