**American Drug Testing would like to disclose that they are not providing a personal opinion on the legal status of Marijuana. They are simply stating facts for the purpose of this blog post.”
Legalizing Marijuana- the topic is everywhere. Whether it be in the news proving medical side effects, or which states are passing it for recreational use, marijuana (or more commonly referred to as “weed” when casually discussed) can’t seem to stay out of the news. And with so many states passing laws about it left and right, we can see how employers would continue to be confused by Marijuana’s status in the United States and how it affects their Work Place Drug Testing Programs/ Policies. And this is exactly why we are seeing an increase in this question from our clients “Should I Stop Screening for Marijuana?” and here are the top 5 reason why you need to be testing for weed.
#1 It still isn’t legal on a federal level
While the use of Marijuana has been legalized in one form or another in several states in the U.S. Cannabis continues to be a controlled substance under federal law. So while local law enforcement is not likely to arrest or prosecute marijuana growers or those in possession of pot (in a quantity under the state’s legal limit), these individuals still risk getting arrested by federal authorities. Especially if the user is applying for a safety-sensitive position under Department of Transportation (DOT) rule which follows Federal law, they would not legally be allowed to perform or be hired for that position on a federal level. So when it comes to questioning Marijuana testing, if you are a DOT company, there is no debate. You must drug test for Cannabis for the positions covered by DOT in your company.
#2 Status in each state varies greatly (especially in consumption)
If you are a mid to large scale company with locations in several states, the laws can definitely get confusing with many different levels of access, use, and transportation carrying laws around the U.S. Become familiar with the laws in the areas that affect your markets and employees before making any big changes. This will save you time and headaches in the long run. For example in Alaska Medical and Recreational Use is legal so that’s pretty straightforward but in Georgia, the legal status only involves Medical and only for the non-psychoactive form of Marijuana called CBD Oil. But any conviction of a marijuana possession, sale, or cultivation offense results in suspension of that person’s driver’s license regardless of if they were caught with marijuana while operating a vehicle or not.
#3 The dreaded “L” word – LAWSUIT
Unfortunately with the legalization of Marijuana and employers being unsure of how to handle it. Many lawsuits have come to light and it is imperative employers know what their rights are when these situations happen. This is why it is very important that your Drug & Alcohol Policy is up to date. Your Drug & Alcohol Policy is the basis for any consequences that could happen to employees and they need to have signed off on this. If you have a signature and confirmation of delivery to your employees then you have a leg to stand one should an angry past employee try to initiate legal action.
Also, lawsuits are one of the biggest reasons why you should continue to test for Marijuana no matter where you are in the U.S. Negligence lawsuits are a major reason why you should continue to test for Cannabis because employers often lose these cases because they are such an easy open and shut case.
Until the use of Marijuana, either medical or recreational, becomes legal in the United States there are far too many liabilities involved with removing it. As employers, it is pertinent to protect yourselves from lawsuits and negative past employers that may try to run your name through the mud by knowing your rights and making sure your Drug & Alcohol Policy is up to date and has been properly distributed to all of your employees.