Marijuana legalization is seeing a surge throughout the country. Recreational marijuana has been legalized in several states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia), while still more have taken part in decriminalization efforts and the legalization of medical marijuana. It seems as though the country is becoming increasingly tolerant of marijuana use, and it may not be long before even more states decriminalize the drug and even go as far as legalizing recreational use and sale. But as states become more progressive, can we expect employers to do the same? Read on to find out more.
If your state has legalized or decriminalized the use and sale of marijuana, then what does this mean when it comes to drug testing in the workplace? Drug testing has long been a standard part of the hiring process for many different industries, and it is understandable why. So long as marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, individual employers do not want to take a chance on hiring someone who participates in technically illegal activity. This zero-tolerance drug policy may even prevail in cases of medical marijuana use; some employers simply will not accept a positive result on a drug test, no matter what the circumstances are.
It may be, however, that these employers will have to rethink and reevaluate their drug policies if and when marijuana legalization becomes the norm rather than the exception. While it is perfectly acceptable to expect employees not to come to work under the influence of marijuana (just as it is to expect employees to come to work sober), if what employees do in their own time has been sanctioned by the state, the strictness of certain drug policies needs to be called into question. A drug test conducted by an employer could yield positive results for days or even weeks after the employee had last used marijuana. Is it a fair assessment of impairment or ability to work in this case? Most would argue no, and they would be correct; the presence of marijuana in your system does not automatically mean you are currently under its effects.
As far as the issue of marijuana legalization and workplace operations is concerned, things currently vary from state to state and employer to employer. Most employers still abide by the federal law, which prohibits the use of marijuana. But as laws continue to be created in response to a more progressive attitude nationwide, we will have to wait and see what changes happen next.
Bruce Robinson & Associates
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