Employee Drug Testing on the Rise: Is it right?

According to news sources drug testing is on the rise as a result of recent legal changes.

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Our medical marijuana lawyers are not surprised that the legalization of marijuana has caused an increase in the amount of drug testing employers conduct.

Some testing centers in Colorado have seen a rise in testing over 2013 of up to 30% and the increase is expected to continue throughout 2014.

Some employers are reviewing their workplace guidelines and policies to ensure that they include explicit verbiage with regard to marijuana use.

The difficulty with marijuana use is that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, may show up in a users system weeks after use. There’s no way to know when the drug was used – this causes a problem when an employer is concerned about on-the-job use.

An employee may test positive for THC on Wednesday, but that does not mean marijuana had been smoked that day, or even that week and it certainly doesn’t mean that the individual is presently under the influence of the substance.

It is possible for marijuana to be in an individual’s blood stream for a full six weeks after use – even though the actual effects will wear off within a few hours.

It appears like a double standard for marijuana users. Opponents contend an employee would never be fired for drinking beer over the weekend but now an employee may be reprimanded or fired for legally using marijuana over the weekend.

The frightening fact is that it still may be legal for your employer to fire you even after marijuana is legalized.

The Colorado recreational marijuana law, known as Amendment 64, could serve as a blueprint for other states to follow. This means that other states may enact similar laws if they legalize recreational marijuana.

In the coming months it is likely that employees will challenge workplace policies limiting or prohibiting marijuana use. The legislators and courts from other states will certainly look to Colorado’s approach for guidance.

In the meantime employers have a duty to keep their employees informed of their policies in regard to marijuana. This means that if the company has a zero-tolerance policy and will randomly drug test, the employees should know about it before an individual gets fired as a result of the policy.

Employees should be careful when they communicate with the Human Resources staff to discuss the company’s policies and what can be done to maintain the employment relationship, even if they are proscribed medicinal marijuana.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana use to some degree. In addition, there presently are at least seven states considering legalized marijuana. This means that the struggle between employers and employees over whether off-the-job pot use is allowed will continue.

The laws regarding marijuana use may change rapidly and be confusing. It is recommended that anyone facing marijuana related charges or concerned about their employment contact an attorney.

The Colorado CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

More Blog Entries:

Flying With Marijuana Now Legal? Oct. 17, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
TSA Inconsistent Policies for Passengers with Marijuana, November 26, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog