Prohibition is still alive and well in portions of the Colorado’s Mile High City, specifically within the stiff-collared confines of the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Although the jaws of justice are no longer called upon to devour the stoner nation on the front lawn of city and county court buildings, employees previously associated with these drug war tactics are still prohibited from relishing in the fruits of the state’s newly legalized pot market. In fact, recently updated conduct policies calls it an offense punishable by termination for an employee to profit from “income derived from a household member’s ownership or financial interest in, or employment by” the cannabis industry.
The new conduct code is the brainless child of Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, who believes that since Uncle Sam still prohibits marijuana, none of his employees should have any affiliation with the business. “Each one of my deputies is sworn to uphold state and federal law. This puts my office in an ethical dilemma,” Morrissey told Denver Westword. “We don’t prosecute federal statutes, but we still take that oath — and that oath still means something to me. The fact that the federal government doesn’t do its job is not my business.”
It is the black hole purgatory that exists between state and federal law that creates potential problems, said Morrissey, who does not ever want to be accused of having an unfair bias in a case just because one of his employees maintained a relationship with legal weed.
“The Denver District Attorney’s Office expects and requires its employees to abide by all local, state and federal laws at all times. Notwithstanding Colorado Constitutional Amendments 20 and 64, marijuana remains illegal under federal laws. The use, possession, cultivation or sale of marijuana by employees, on or off duty, is strictly prohibited. Employees of this office are prohibited from having any ownership or financial interest in, or being employed by, any retail or wholesale establishment involved in the sale of marijuana or marijuana products. Likewise, no employee of this office may benefit from income derived from a household member’s ownership or financial interest in, or employment by, such a retail or wholesale establishment,” reads the DA’s policy.
In the spirit of fairness, Morrissey claims that workers are also required to report family members who find themselves in jail for drunk driving.
It will be interesting to see if the Denver District Attorney’s newly revised conduct code is eventually challenged in a court of law. Although the implementation of most drug-free workplace policies are up to the discretion of the employer, prohibiting a worker from using marijuana, a legal substance in the state of Colorado, seems to stand on one leg in an unconstitutional cesspool of personal conviction rather than on a foundation sworn to uphold the law.