How Does Recreational Cannabis Affect Drug Testing in Washington?

As Washington’s pro-cannabis community celebrated the legalization of recreational marijuana, many employers were left wondering how this change would affect their company’s drug testing policies. With a growing number of companies and organizations recognizing the vital need for a drug and alcohol policy, including some form of employee drug testing, legalized recreational cannabis has the potential to have major effects. Balancing employee rights with the safety and productivity of your company can be a challenge, especially if you’re unsure about how recreational cannabis comes into play.

We’ve put together a helpful resource to help you clarify the impact of legalized recreational marijuana on your company’s drug testing policies and procedures.

Does Legalized Recreational Cannabis Affect Employer Drug Testing?

Although the state of Washington now allows the recreational use of cannabis, it currently has little to no effect on an employer’s ability to enforce drug testing as part of their workplace policy. A 2011 court decision reinforced employers’ right to conduct drug testing and terminate an employee after detected marijuana use, regardless of the employee’s possession of a medical marijuana card. While it remains to be seen how this may change in the future, drug testing in the workplace has yet to be affected.

Employers are still generally allowed to drug test their employees, both for the newly legal and illegal drug types. However, keep in mind that there are still certain limitations on the information you can require from an employee. Additionally, it is important to be aware of employee rights and protections against the use of information and improper testing procedures. Your access to an employee’s medical information is restricted according to medical information confidentiality laws, and you are also prohibited from basing an employment decision on an employee’s disability.

However, employers still have legal rights when it comes to incorporating drug testing as a part of their workplace policy.

Private Employers

If you are a private employer, you generally have the right to prohibit any workplace behavior – legal or otherwise. Most private employers prohibit drug and alcohol use in the workplace, while many others have policies against certain conduct, dress codes, and more. A private company has the legal right to make decisions based on their code of conduct, and this is not affected by the legalization of cannabis. Your company is still able to require drug testing as a condition of employment and can make the decision to include cannabis in your policy’s prohibited substances.

Public Employers

While recreational cannabis may have been legalized at the state level, it is technically still an illegal substance according to federal law. As a result, public federal employees (or those employed at an organization that receives federal funding) may be required to undergo drug testing according to federal guidelines. In particular, transportation companies have significant legal responsibilities to conduct drug testing, due to the significant impact on public safety.

Protect Your Company by Revising Your Drug Policy

If your current company policy simply prohibits the use of all “illegal” drugs, it’s important to reconsider the language used, now that cannabis is legalized. Making simple changes to your policy can ensure that your company is protected against any employee that chooses to challenge your drug testing policy.

Professional Employer Drug Testing in Seattle

Pre-employment drug screening is a smart, proactive way to protect your company and customers from the potential effects of employee drug use. ARCpoint Labs offers reliable employer drug tests in Seattle, making it easy to implement an effective drug policy in the workplace. In addition to providing post-incident, random, and pre-employment drug testing, our professional team can also help you design effective workplace policies and provide high-quality training, enabling your company to take a multi-faceted approach against alcohol and drug use in the workplace.

For more information about our wide array of employer solutions, contact ARCpoint Labs of Seattle West today.