>>> Many employers that currently have drug testing programs may be asking the question – should I stop drug testing for marijuana. There are several other questions that need to be answered first.
- Is my company required to have DOT regulated drug testing? Then testing for marijuana is required.
- Is my company participating in a drug free workplace program due to our company receiving Federal contracts or grants? In that case, if you are drug testing, then marijuana must be included.
- Is my company participating in a State drug free workplace program that gives my company a discount on workers compensation insurance programs? Most of these programs require testing for marijuana.
- Is my company drug testing employees due to a contract with another company? Many times the substances to be tested for are spelled out and marijuana is required.
- Are there safety sensitive positions in my company? Impaired employees can cause accidents.
- What does the law in my state say about medical marijuana? Important decisions to be made.
- What does the law in my state say about recreational marijuana? Important decisions to be made.
- What is my company position on having employees report to work possibly under the influence of marijuana? This is perhaps the most important question and perhaps should be answered first.
You can see from the above questions that the decision to perhaps stop drug testing for marijuana is a complex decision. The decision should come from the top; what does executive management say about this. It is also important that a company attorney be consulted.
Drug use is a significant threat to workplace health, safety and productivity. Safety must be considered in any discussion in regards to drug testing. Productivity issues should also be considered. Compliance with regulations or contract obligations will be equally important to your decisions.
The first step for any employer is to take a look at your current drug free workplace policy. Does this policy accurately reflect the beliefs of the company owner, CEO or executive management? If the company does not have a drug free workplace policy, they need one right away.
Perhaps your company will accept medical marijuana as valid and not have an issue employing medical marijuana users. If this is the case, know your state law on medical marijuana – is smoking marijuana allowed; it is not in several states that allow medical marijuana. Positive drug tests for marijuana may not be present in some of the other ways that medical marijuana is consumed. Also, important is to verify an employees’ medical marijuana card or letter of authorization.
In the above situation for medical marijuana, if you stop testing for marijuana; you will risk any of your employees coming to work under the influence of marijuana and potentially expose your company to liability. Safety and productivity are issues that you must be concerned about. In any case regarding medical marijuana, before taking adverse action against an employee for a positive marijuana drug test; caution and discussion among upper management is absolutely necessary. Consulting legal counsel would also be a good idea.
Regarding recreational marijuana as of August 2017, there are eight states and the District of Columbia that have adopted laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. These are Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada. It is these states that employers must make some very tough decisions. The decision about allowing employees to come to work potentially under the influence of marijuana must be made.
The bottom line – employers must make hard decisions and implement written policies regarding these decisions. Education and training is critical to make sure all employees, management and human resource officials are consistently following these policies.