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Does Legalizing Marijuana Affect Employer Drug Screening?

by | Dec 23, 2023 | Uncategorized

In 1969, only 12 percent of the American population supported its legalization. By 2018, that figure had grown to 66 percent. So far, 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, with many more up for consideration in upcoming elections. The growing acceptance of marijuana in today’s society, culture, and legal system is now prompting employers to consider the implications for drug testing and employment background screening.

Can Employers Still Test For Marijuana In The Workplace?

Despite its rampant legalization, employers can still test for marijuana in the workplace; all current state laws prohibit marijuana use in the workplace. And how can employers ensure employees are not coming to work under the influence if employers stop drug testing for marijuana?

Ultimately, it all depends on the laws of the state and company policy. Nebraska, for instance, it’s within your rights as an employer to test for marijuana. Keep in mind that no form of marijuana is legal in Nebraska; therefore, Omaha employers can still terminate or refuse employment to those who fail a drug test for marijuana or other illegal substances.

Marijuana Laws Still Prioritize Workplace Safety

Some workers fall under federal regulations that require testing for various drugs, including marijuana, regardless of state laws. Note that marijuana remains illegal under federal law for medicinal or recreational reasons.

In addition to the federal marijuana laws, some states that have passed marijuana legislation have carve-outs for safety-sensitive positions. Here are some positions that might require drug testing for safety reasons:

  • Mass transit (bus drivers and train conductors)
  • Airline workers
  • Truckers
  • Construction
  • Sports

The use of marijuana has been linked to increased workplace accidents and injuries; according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana can impair body movement and coordination, thinking and problem-solving, reaction time, and affect the perception of time and speed.

Working under the influence of marijuana is dangerous for all high-risk occupations. Essentially, any position involving driving or the use of machinery fits into the ‘safety sensitive’ designation. Not to mention that all marijuana state laws strictly regulate the use of the drug.

Employer Rights Surpass Legalization Laws

Despite the rampant state legalization of marijuana, it is still designated as a Schedule I substance under the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA). With state and federal marijuana laws at odds, there’s been a lot of confusion among employers, particularly those in states that have legalized marijuana.

Employers Retain the Right to Pursue A Drug-Free Work Environment

Nevertheless, it’s your responsibility as an employer to maintain productivity, ensure workplace safety, and protect workers’ rights. You have the right to pursue and enforce a drug-free working environment even as marijuana legalization spreads across the country. At the moment, no state law requires employers to tolerate on-the-job use.

What Does This Mean for Employers?

As state laws regarding the use of marijuana continue to evolve, employers need to re-evaluate their drug policies. For instance, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis can stay in the body for several weeks, meaning a positive test doesn’t necessarily indicate on-the-job use.

Employers need to invest in more reliable drug testing methods that reveal important details, such as on-the-job impairment and frequency of use. You also need to consider the implications of a negative marijuana drug test as a prerequisite for employment. It may affect your ability to attract top talent in your field.

Employee Drug Testing in Omaha, NE

As an employer, you still have the right to pursue a drug-free working environment. To protect your workplace, you need to maintain reliable drug testing methods and stay up to date with the latest marijuana legislation in your state. Contact ARCpoint Labs of Omaha to implement a compliant and efficient workplace drug-testing program for your team.

Image Source:  one photo / Shutterstock

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