Are Employers Dropping Marijuana from Their Drug Testing Panels?

Employers may be wondering if it is becoming common practice to drop marijuana from the workplace drug testing panel.

Guest Author: Katherine Miller of Current Consulting Group, LLC

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein.

 With more than 30 states now permitting medical marijuana use and over 10 with legal recreational use, employers may be wondering if it is becoming common practice to drop marijuana from the workplace drug testing panel. While marijuana may be becoming more accepted by society, employers as a whole are still testing for this commonly abused drug.

Statistics Show That Only A Small Percentage of Employers Are Considering A Change

 A recent 2020 survey of employers across the U.S. found that only 4.98% of respondents were considering the removal of marijuana from their testing panel in the next 12 months.[1] This number has stayed fairly static over the past three years, with 4.51% of employers in 2019 reporting their consideration to drop marijuana in 2019 and 4.78% of employers indicating the same in 2018.[2],[3]

While it’s likely that some employers have removed marijuana from their testing panels, the percentage is small, and it is still considered a best practice to test for marijuana.

Legislation May Be Impacting Employer Opinions

Marijuana legalization advocates have made limiting workplace testing for cannabis use a priority. Already in 2020, a number of states have proposed legislation that would limit employer rights to test for marijuana in the workplace. Additionally, a number of states or municipalities currently place restrictions on marijuana testing.

While some states simply state that an employer cannot take adverse employment action based solely on a qualified medical marijuana user’s positive test for marijuana metabolites, others place greater restrictions or outright ban testing for marijuana under certain circumstances. New York City, for example, prohibits pre-employment testing for THC unless an individual is applying for certain designated safety-sensitive positions.[4]

Should You Drop Marijuana from Your Testing Panel?

The legislative push to limit workplace testing for marijuana, while concerning, is not reason enough for employers to drop marijuana testing entirely. Although it may seem difficult to navigate varied state laws and city ordinances that may place restrictions on what is permissible, it is still considered best practice to test for marijuana when permitted. No state or city outright prohibits marijuana testing in all circumstances. And those states that have enacted restrictions, always exclude applicants for safety-sensitive positions from those restrictions.

Employers that drop marijuana from their testing panels open themselves to potential accidents/incidents, profit losses, and lawsuits. Consider potential consequences carefully prior to making the decision to remove marijuana from your testing panel. Additionally, stay abreast of local laws and ongoing case law in order to stay compliant with all applicable regulations.

 © 2010-2020 The Current Consulting Group, LLC – No portion of this article may be reproduced, retransmitted, posted on a website, or used in any manner without the written consent of the Current Consulting Group, LLC. When permission is granted to reproduce this article in any way, full attribution to the author and copyright holder are required.

 Learn more about Workplace Considerations For Marijuana Use on the National Drug Screening web site.  Here you can find answers to your questions about marijuana and your employees and your drug free workplace.

[1] “The 2020 Employer Drug Testing and Brand Name Recognition Survey.” The Current Consulting Group,

[2] “The 2019 Employer Drug Testing Survey.” The Current Consulting Group,

[3] “The 2018 Employer Drug Testing Survey.” The Current Consulting Group,

[4] Local law 91

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