I live and work in Colorado. I know that pot is legal here.

I work on a golf course owned by the city. We operate a lot of heavy machinery, often within a few yards of golfers. One of my coworkers, who also happens to be my trainer, smokes pot constantly while we work. He doesn't put it down except to refill it during our 8.5 hour shift. We will be moving 15 mph on absolutely massive lawnmowers, and he will be steering with one hand, doing zigzag patterns (we are supposed to be perfectly straight) as a result, and holding a container full of lit pot in the other hand. This terrifies me, as he is extremely unpredictable when he starts smoking, but I am also exposed to these drugs and have not even been asked if that is acceptable. Even worse, young children are often on the course and are exposed without any warning or parental approval.

I don't know what the laws regarding this sort of issue are, but it seems wrong to subject so many people to a dangerous drug without at least warning them beforehand. It seems even worse that I am forced to learn from somebody who is constantly stoned, as I cannot understand him most of the time and do not know if he is teaching me correctly.

When I get in to work tomorrow, I'm going to try to talk to my boss about this. Is there anything I should know about the rules and laws related to this subject before I start that conversation? Am I allowed to request a different trainer for this reason?

  • 23
    I think if you just replace the word "pot" with alcohol, this becomes a simple question
    – Andrey
    Aug 14, 2015 at 20:34
  • 4
    You raise two issues here: The first is your coworker driving vehicles while under the influence of a drug. This is illegal and bad for obvious reasons. The second is you being subjected to a "dangerous drug". This is apparently uncomfortable for you, but likely legal. And whether THC is a 'dangerous drug' is a topic of some debate.
    – fgysin
    Sep 23, 2015 at 16:27
  • 1
    @fgysin: The OP could be referring to the effects of 2nd hand smoke.
    – GreenMatt
    Sep 23, 2015 at 17:44
  • If this was indoors I'd see it as troublesome (might even touch legal issues, viz laws about indoor smoking/smoking in public buildings/...). But given his workplace is a golf course... I first have to see any kind of examination about outdoor second hand smoking effects.
    – fgysin
    Sep 24, 2015 at 6:01
  • @fgysin - you must have completely misread the question. The culprit is driving (heavy machinery!!!) while under the influence. It is - extremely simply - illegal.
    – Fattie
    Jul 25, 2018 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


Even though recreational marijuana use may be legal, driving under the influence is still illegal.

"Driving" is usually qualified as operating any "motor vehicle", this would include riding mowers.

It also looks like public intoxication and "open container" laws may still apply.

With that out of the way...

I would assume that the higher management is unaware of the issue and would most likely take immediate action if/when they are informed.

Even if the law wasn't being broken, a smart manager would have some serious concerns about safety and liability. There's a good chance that the company already has a policy concerning this sort of situation.

If I were in your situation I would try to give the manager an opportunity to catch the trainer in the act. If you can manage that, there won't be any question about whether the smoking is happening on the job or after hours.

It appears that Colorado has some pretty broad DUI laws:

A specific instance of lawn mower DUI with some explanation

The DUI/DWAI statute

The Colorado Department of Transportation's "Marijuana and Driving" FAQ

  • 12
    Note, I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.
    – apaul
    Aug 12, 2015 at 0:58
  • 4
    @Jpdiffy1125 Chances are pretty good that he would only be facing work related consequences, I doubt that the boss will want to get the police involved and cause a scene.
    – apaul
    Aug 12, 2015 at 1:42
  • 1
    @Riorank If that is the case, I will be as diplomatic as possible while explaining that I cannot condone such behavior. If that means I get fired, so be it. That's a price I'm willing to pay in order stand by my morals. Aug 12, 2015 at 1:56
  • 5
    @Jpdiffy1125 I am going to agree with Riorank and tell you to not make this about morals - that comes off as you saying you are better than them. Instead make sure your arguments are about the ability to do his job and the safety and legal concerns of driving under the influence.
    – David K
    Aug 12, 2015 at 12:36
  • 1
    @LokiAstari That definition is likely jurisdiction dependent. Where I am, I've heard of boaters on lakes and snowmobilers on private land getting in trouble for DWI.
    – Myles
    Aug 13, 2015 at 16:22

Two major points for consideration:

  1. Your coworker's use of grass is interfering with job performance, both his and yours.
  2. Safety hazard to customers, himself, and you.

The city should be concerned if his drug use threatens the safety of others - customers and employees alike. Given the job is a municipal job, policies regarding a clean, drug-free work environment are likely to be more stringent.

It seems wrong to subject so many people to a dangerous drug without at least warning them beforehand.

I would not mention this statement. The drug may be dangerous in your opinion, but bringing your morality into question in this instance will not be helpful to finding a mutually beneficial solution. Focus on how his drug use is affecting customers - threatening safety and enjoyment, and yourself - impeding your ability to learn in your job capacity.

  • The colorado law does have limitations in where it can be smoked as well. And a golf course is not going to be one of those places, nor is anywhere it is being "forced" on someone who wishes to not be exposed, which is the case with someone training you, it's not like you can move over 10 yards. Sep 22, 2015 at 16:47

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