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Should We Ban Marijuana Drug Testing in the Workplace?

by Countable | Updated on 3.28.18

What’s the story?

  • Recreational marijuana is now legal in nine states and Washington D.C., and medicinal pot is legal in 29 states.

  • Over half of employers, however, give drug tests to potential job candidates.

  • As a recent article in The Oregonian pointed out:

"Labor law experts warn that even if cannabis is legal in your state, employers can still drug test and fire you if they find THC in your bloodstream."

  • Is it time to ban marijuana testing in the workplace?

What do the courts say?

  • One of the most widely-cited cases is a 2015 Colorado Supreme Court decision that upheld Dish Network’s firing of a quadriplegic employee for using medical marijuana at home to control his seizures.

  • "The court ruled that a state law barring employers from firing workers for off-duty behavior that is legal did not apply because pot remains illegal under federal law," the AP explained in December 2016. “Similar rulings have been issued in other states including California, Montana and Washington.”

What are states saying?

  • On February 1, 2018, Maine became the first state to bar employers from testing for marijuana. The law also prevents employers from taking adverse action against off-work pot use.
  • Democratic State Rep. David Bowen introduced a similar bill in Wisconsin earlier this month, stating "consuming THC weeks or months out from a job interview should not disqualify someone from finding employment any more than someone who drank a few beers on another date should be kept out of work."

What do you say?

With more and more states legalizing medicinal and recreational marijuana, is it time to ban THC drug testing in the workplace? Should employers respect their state’s – and not federal – marijuana laws? Should drug testing be allowed for recreational, but not medicinal, marijuana use? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: RapidEye / iStock)

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(245)
  • Jennifer
    03/28/2018
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    The thing I hate about marijuana testing vs alcohol, is that it stays in your system up to 30 days, so you may not be under the influence nor “hungover,” and on the job, yet could still be caught up as if you were working under the influence. Personally— with the exception of certain careers (e.g. any one operating motor vehicles, especially in transporting others, like trains, planes and automobiles, medical personal or those caring for others including teachers, those using machinery. etc.), I could care less what a consenting adult puts in his system, as long as he understands and lives with consequences of those choices.

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  • Robert
    03/28/2018
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    Yes, drug testing is an invasion of privacy. Employers don’t test for alcohol consumption.

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  • OlderNWiser
    03/28/2018
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    Absolutely ban marijuana testing, particularly in states where cannabis is legal. Fat cells release cannabis for over a week after use and I have ridden with people smoking cannabis who drove better than the people who weren’t. Where cannabis is legal, drug addiction and deaths are reduced. Few people become addicted to cannabis,as it is generally a benign extremely helpful medicine for most. Alcohol? Not so benign.

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  • TracyEckels
    03/28/2018
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    The problem with testing for marijuana is that it is has a limped molecule and binds with your body fat. Therefore residing in the body for many days if not months. The current testing does not identify how much was used or if someone was under its influence at any given time. So if they found cannabis in any form you are considered guilty for being under the influence of an illegal substance.

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  • Memnermo
    03/28/2018
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    Marijuana is far less damaging than alcohol and medical marijuana can really help people with specific conditions. It’s ridiculous that employers can fire someone for THC in their blood even if it’s legal in the state and even if the employee is completely sober. If the person were high at work I definitely get firing them just like if they’re drunk at work but there’s no reason why they can’t do what they want responsibly on their own time. There’s not even a hangover with marijuana that would inhibit someone’s work performance. Federal laws on weed are based on outdated prejudices and misinformation, making it legal nationwide would provide huge economic growth from taxes on the substance and all the different jobs that would be created. Not only that but drug cartels and dealers would take a massive hit by having marijuana legalized, which would in turn help law enforcement. Seriously this needs to be legalized for so many different reasons and benefits.

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  • BeStrong
    03/28/2018
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    Immediate change: In the states that have legalized cannabis, there should be NO testing. AND ...*Cannabis can remain in the system, attaching to fat cells, for weeks. *There is no practical or measurable method to test for impairment. ***So why test at all. And FYI... If there are THC-COOH levels detected in urine testing, that is NOT an indication of ‘influence/impairment’.

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  • Abbi
    03/28/2018
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    Yes. It's a harmless plant for most.

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  • Charles
    03/28/2018
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    Test for impairment, not ingestion. Current THC testing indicates whether or not it has been ingested, not whether or not a person is impaired.

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  • Patricia
    03/28/2018
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    Ban it. If people Aren’t using hard drugs like cocaine, meth or heroin it isn’t their employers’ business. Cannabis is harmless.

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  • David
    03/28/2018
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    Please support this.

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  • Paula
    03/28/2018
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    If it’s legal in your state, then it’s legal and employers shouldn’t be testing for marijuana. That’s not to say there isn’t value in a drug-free workplace, there is, but if there weren’t already a whole lot of excellent, productive workers out there who, if suddenly tested, would come up positive (recreational and medicinal), then the laws around the world wouldn’t be shifting in favor of legalization. Once upon a time in the U.S., a prospective employer could legally ask what your family expansion plans were and then hire/not hire based on that answer. Testing for marijuana in the workplace is the same kind of anachronism (never mind an invasion of privacy). This senior citizen says, DUMP IT!

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  • Kris
    03/29/2018
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    I have always felt drug testing for employment should be banned. If the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to drug test our senators and congressmen back in 1996 why is it legal for employers to drug test the rest of us. If our law makers don’t have to take a drug test why should the rest of society? No body should have to take a drug test for employment reasons

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  • Jim2423
    03/28/2018
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    No it still should be right along with alcohol testing. If your supervisor thinks you are under the influence and the company pays for the test and time to take the test. Leave it place. Alcohol and marijuana should not be allowed in the work force.

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  • Benjamin
    03/28/2018
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    There is no reason to think that if you hire people who smoke marijuana your business will suddenly be swamped with people who are baked out of their minds at work every day. We hire people who drink alcohol without assuming they will drink on the job or come to work drunk. And when they do appropriate steps are taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That should be the model for pot. Too easy

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    03/28/2018
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    Yes. We should stop policing employees and start treating them as human beings and not criminals. If an employee’s performance starts to trend downward, then maybe you let the employee go, based on poor performance. If an incident occurs, and it appears to be questionable, and potentially some liabilities, maybe the employee should be drug tested. Innocent until proven guilty, right. Republicans view everyone as guilty until they prove themselves innocent.

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  • James
    03/28/2018
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    First of all High is high and under the influence is under the influence! I work in the steel industry and sober and clean a person can get injured or killed very easily! I worked in construction and environmental clean up which requires the full attention of everyone not just the heavy equipment operator but also someone digging with a shovel! Have an accident on the job and the first place you go is to the nearest comic for drug testing! Yes! Drug test always and for every position and hold office people accountable too! And if I may ask! What idiot at Countable thought this question up in the first place? Go drug test them immediately! It’s all about responsibility! We can NOT be a nation of Hop Headed Goofs and survive! Get your heads out of your asses!

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  • Tiana
    03/28/2018
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    Yes! This is a drug that has many therapeutic properties. And there is no one on record in the history of mankind that ever hit rock bottom from marijuana usage. It is not a danger to society! And that gateway drug BS is just that…BS! Fully, federally legalize marijuana and stop penalizing people for using one of the last natural highs out there!

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  • John
    03/28/2018
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    Because of the long excretion of the metabolic products it tests, it’s only a screening for use, not intoxication. If it’s legal, get rid of it until they can test for intoxication more reliably.

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  • Mark
    03/28/2018
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    Yes, outlaw pre-employment drug screens! It’s one of those practices that sound reasonable to some, but are entirely dysfunctional in practice. Many companies have already abandoned the practice of drug screening for new employees, partly because it’s costly and because marijuana use hasn’t been shown to be an accurate predictor of employee suitability. Aside from enriching the drug screening industry, there aren’t many benefits, if any, to this as a policy. For anyone to be denied employment because of a failed marijuana drug screen is unjust. Those people suffering from addiction to harmful drugs, including alcohol, will demonstrate their unsuitability in any event. Maybe if we didn’t have the barbarous for-profit healthcare industry, people suffering from any kind of addiction could be treated while continuing to work.

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  • RadicalModerate
    03/29/2018
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    Drug testing reveals more about a persons medical situation than it does about potential job performance. It’s a lazy, counter productive management tool that leads to worker mistreatment and wage suppression.

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