Marijuana Legalization and Pre-employement Drug Testing Policies
Now that 29 states support the legalization of marijuana, it’s time for a workplace overhaul.
Cannabis reform impacts every member of the workplace, from concerned employers to marijuana users. It’s proven that prolonged marijuana use slows reaction times and increases lethargy, translating to corporate losses through absenteeism and tardiness. Some employers hesitate to implement drug testing programs because they might miss out on quality candidates who use marijuana off-duty. Although the drug is more socially acceptable, employees who engage in recreational marijuana use are 3.5 times more likely to be involved in workplace accidents and injuries. In spite of this cultural shift, safety-sensitive workplaces can preserve their zero-tolerance policies by using hair follicle drug testing.
Reliable Drug Testing Methods
To measure an individual’s long-term drug abuse history, hair drug test kits are unparalleled. Pre-employment drug testing with hair is ideal for federal institutions like drug courts and prisons; industrial positions involving construction and transportation; educational institutions like schools and volunteer organizations; and rehabilitation centers and sober homes.
Zero Tolerance Policies in the Workplace
Federal Institutions, Drug Courts, Law Enforcement Offices, etc.
In order to execute topmost judgment and avoid misconduct, law enforcement officials need to abide by zero-tolerance policies before they come on board. Being impaired while working in high-risk situations could be the difference between a life or death outcome.
Up to 25% of law enforcement officers have admitted to being under the influence while on-duty to cope with the stressors of the job. Unfortunately, abuse of marijuana and other drugs is a recurring issue within criminal and judicial settings. Hair drug test kits are useful to measure a potential officer’s drug abuse history.
Industrial Firms, Construction Companies, Supply Chain Transport, etc.
Under no circumstances should marijuana users be hired where machinery and heavy-duty equipment are used. The influence of marijuana, whether medical, recreational, on or off-duty, slows task completion, contributes to property destruction and endangers lives. Industrial roles require meticulous attention to hazards like heights, debris and sharp tools.
In a recent study, 5% of industrial applicants failed a hair follicle exam; of this statistic, 90% passed a urinalysis exam. This suggests that while urinalysis is effective for periodic drug testing, it does not mitigate all of the risk inherent in the hiring process. Regulatory bodies are currently petitioning for DOT-certified hair testing to be paired with periodic urinalysis.
Educational Institutions, Counselling Services, School Vehicle Operators, etc.
Youth are often curious and impressionable, so education professionals must practice temperance and set the right example in schools. Quality of education is measured by the receptiveness of teachers and counselors, so impairment must be avoided.
School drivers must also be alert when carrying vehicles filled with students. Drug-free school policies can be applied to staff members through pre-employment hair follicle drug testing.
Rehabilitation Centers, Sober Homes, Nursing Consulting, etc.
Many people are involved in the rehabilitation of a drug user, including therapists, detox specialists, clinicians and social workers. Pre-employment hair testing ensures no one will threaten the sobriety of rehab patients. It is crucial for sober homes and rehabilitation centers to apply their zero-tolerance drug policies to staff members and patients alike.
Unfortunately, 10-15% of nursing professionals admit to using intoxicating substances, marijuana or controlled opiates. Long work days can lead to drug abuse; fortunately, hair follicle testing secures patients into the hands of sober professionals.
Adopting a Workplace Drug Testing Program
The hiring market is competitive enough for employers to legally defend their zero-tolerance policies in spite of marijuana reform. A company’s rules and regulations should be clearly phrased during the interview process, and enforced afterwards. Employers must receive a candidate’s written consent before they submit to a background check or drug test as acknowledgment of the scheduled procedure. A suitable applicant may succeed in the interview process, yet fail a background check; in this case, an offer letter may be withheld as long as results are disclosed to the applicant.
It is crucial for companies to solidify their concept of “drug-free” before designing a pre-employment drug test policy:
- “Zero-tolerance” means no amount of any substance is permissible while on-duty. Any concentration of THC in an employee’s system, no matter how negligible, is not allowed.
- “Per Se” policies are more lenient since they permit off-duty marijuana use; however, strict cut-off levels need to be established as a measure of low level intoxication.
Candidates who are medically prescribed marijuana for pain management reasons can still become viable employees depending on the role in question.
- Medical cannabis users should not be immediately overlooked for hire, especially if their off-duty usage has no bearing on the position’s safety requirements. However, this may not apply to the aforementioned roles.
- If an applicant is screened because of an apparent disability, and findings show they cannot physically perform the necessary job duties, a rejection notice can be issued. In this case, it is important to articulate the reasons for not hiring the candidate to avoid liability through the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
Discrimination is averted when hair follicle testing is used as a pre-employment screening tool for all prospective hires. Job offers are contingent upon the results of the test. No matter the policy, employees need to be aligned with a company’s cultural values. Hair analysis provides a comprehensive report of someone’s drug abuse history, and does not need to be used as frequently as other tests. Marijuana is included in all hair drug test panels as one of SAMHSA’s top drugs of abuse.
Companies must safeguard themselves against marijuana reform.
Marijuana may be decriminalized, but workplace intoxication causes property damage, slowed performance and workplace injuries. Legality of a substance does not mean it can be used without causing dramatic cognitive effects, as is the case with alcohol. Employers have one goal in mind: keeping their staff productive to grow their bottom line. Safety is the first step to fulfilling this goal, which is why hair drug test kits are now as widespread as the legalization of marijuana.
Impact of Marijuana Legislation in the Workplace
Medical marijuana use is inherently dangerous where full focus and motor skill control are required: construction firms, utility services and distribution agencies are some examples. In these settings, even off-duty marijuana use can heighten the risk of injuries and accidents.
Zero-tolerance workplace policies can be enforced through pre-employment hair follicle testing and post-employment periodic urinalysis. These combined measures will help establish a worker’s overall drug abuse history.
Each state has unique laws in place regarding allowance of marijuana in the workplace.