Amid Marijuana Legalization, Employers Not Approving

According to recent news reports the rate of marijuana use has increased dramatically in recent years.

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Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know that there has been an increase in drug testing as well – even with a growing number of states decriminalizing or even legalizing recreational use.

According to a recent study, about 19 million American citizens are marijuana users, it should be no surprise that increased drug tests by employers is returning an increased number of tests with a positive result.

Some studies estimate that the rate of positive results has increased to six percent over the last five years.

This means that out of about 3.5 million drug tests, roughly 87,500 have tested positive for marijuana use.

The real question here is what effect does the semi-legal status of marijuana in many areas have on whether employers really care whether someone is using a legal substance during their time away from the job.

In reality, not much has changed for marijuana users when it comes to employment drug screening – even if the user has a prescription from a doctor in a place like California where medicinal use is legal.

Courts in California have ruled that even though the use of marijuana is legalized in the state, employers still have the right to test for the drug since it is illegal under federal law.

The situation for safety-sensitive employees is almost guaranteed to go unchanged for a long time. These so called safety-sensitive jobs include most employees in the transportation industry (transit, planes, pipelines, boats, trains, and trucks).

Essentially, a truck driver in California is subject to the same types of ban on marijuana use as a truck driver in any other state – prescription non-withstanding.

While the public sentiment toward marijuana use and legalization is shifting rapidly, there have not been significant shifts in employer policy as most organizations seem to be taking a “wait and see approach.”

As more jurisdictions allow the use of marijuana, employers may be forced to revisit their policies with regard to marijuana use. Many marijuana advocates feel that marijuana use outside the workplace should be treated no differently than alcohol use outside the workplace.

This means employer’s should not care what their workers do on Saturday night as long as it does not affect their job performance on Monday morning.

However, in some respects marijuana use is more complicated. Aside from the legal challenges, the testing methods for marijuana as opposed to alcohol have not reached adequate maturity.

The most popular drug test, the urine test, will return results that reflect whether someone has used THC within the past month or so. This means that an employer is being punished for activities from weeks ago and not necessarily current impairment.

Although there are problems with using urine results for alcohol testing, it is at least more reflective of present impairment than marijuana urine testing.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
More Blog Entries:

Marijuana DUI an Increasing Threat Amid Legalization Efforts, January 1, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Budding Industry for Labs Testing Marijuana, December 27, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog