Over the past 10 years, there have been changes to laws governing medicinal and recreational marijuana use across the United States. Twenty-five states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana in some form. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and 25 million Americans have used marijuana in the past year with 14 million of these using the drug on a regular basis.
Legalization of marijuana issues
The legalization of marijuana usage for medicinal or recreational purposes doesn’t remove the many reasons for screening for this drug, including workplace safety, productivity and health concerns. In fact, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently issued a report affirming that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision. The Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) also have data to support the DEA report. They found:
- A minimum of 24-hour acute impairment is standard after marijuana use
- One in 10 marijuana users will become dependent to the point of needing treatment
- There is two to five times greater use of other drugs when marijuana is the onset drug
- Drug abusers are less productive, have increased absenteeism and are more likely to be a danger to themselves and their co-workers.
The legalization of marijuana use has forced employers to review their workplace drug policies.
Courts finds for the employer
Court rulings have come down on the side of the employer allowing them to fire employees for using marijuana, even when off the job. As long as private employers apply their drug-free policies in a neutral manner, courts have held that banning drug use on the job is not discriminatory. If a business has a clear, concise and consistent drug policy, it is allowable to terminate an employee based on a drug test showing presence of marijuana in the employee’s system during work hours.
Assess your workplace drug policy
It makes sense to ensure that your company’s drug testing polices protect your organization to suit your needs. Companies promoting a drug-free environment will need to review their policy with legal counsel and consistently apply drug testing policies across all candidates and employees while taking into account the health and safety of all workers in the application of the predetermined drug screening policy. Having the right drug policies in place will help enforce safety standards in the interest of public health and safety.