Legal experts warn 'pot holiday' could end career

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - With more and more Texans traveling to Colorado to enjoy legalized marijuana, legal experts warn there could be ramifications back home.

"There are going to be consequences for what it is that you did while you were on vacation in Colorado," said Local 2 Legal Analyst Brian Wice.

He says the biggest pitfall Texans fail to see is that companies have the right to drug test employees, as do city and county governments.

"The fact that it's legal in Colorado doesn't mean that your job can't fire you because you wind up with a dirty urinalysis," said Wice. "It could end up inevitably costing you your job."

Wice says other potential problems involve a person driving back from Colorado and getting in an accident in Texas that requires police to test for signs of intoxication.

"You can't tell the arresting officer, or your employer, or your mom or your girlfriend, 'Wait a second, it's legal in Colorado,' because it ain't legal here," said Wice.

The potential issues are also a small part of why the South Texas College of Law has partnered with Rice University's Baker Institute for a new course on marijuana policy.

"I saw the strong need to modernize the drug policies we have in Texas," said South Texas College of Law student Rehman Bhalesha.

The collaboration is the brain child of Bhalesha. He said with more states considering marijuana legalization, he and his counterparts at Rice are working to draft model drug policies for Texas. These policies include criminal penalties, taxes, employment, business opportunities and medicinal use.

"We're looking at the entire gamut of policy legislation," said Bhalesha.

Once the schools draft these model policies, the work is published and presented to state lawmakers for consideration.

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