Marijuana Legalization and the Drug Test Company

Marijuana Legalization and the Company Drug Test

The quest to banish marijuana prohibition entirely in the United States continues this year.

As states continue to legalize both medical and recreational use, employers who test for the drug are less than thrilled.

They must determine how to remain in compliance with state law and still maintain a safe working environment for their employees.

While most states aren’t putting stipulations on employers at this point, some are, and the future will determine if others will follow suit.


States Pushing for Legalization

Arizona is certain to have at least one initiative to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2020 ballot. After being defeated in 2016, supporters feel it’s very likely to pass this time around.

They’re not alone in their quest to end marijuana prohibition. The following states have advocates hard at work trying to gather petition signatures while others are calling for citizens to press state legislators to move toward legalization.



Idaho supporters are working to gather just over 55,000 signatures before the deadline on April 30, 2020. If they obtain enough, a proposal to legalize medical marijuana will be added to the November ballot.



There have been two ballot initiatives filed—so far—proposing that voters legalize recreational
marijuana. Supporters are working to acquire the necessary 89,000+ signatures the petition requires before the July 2020 deadline.



If the proposed amendment makes the ballot, a recent survey revealed that 67% of citizens are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.



Some leaders aren’t happy about the fact that there have been enough signatures acquired to put the legalization of medical marijuana to a vote. Supporters, on the other hand, are optimistic about the outcome.


North Carolina

The North Carolina Epilepsy Alternative Treatment Act became law in 2014. However, North Carolina residents don’t think the medical use of marijuana should be limited to epilepsy alone. A 2017 Elon University poll showed that 80% of North Carolina’s voters support medical marijuana legalization, while only 45% of voters are in favor of recreational legalization. In either case, voters can’t place measures on the ballot. Instead, supporters are being urged to contact their state lawmakers urging them to approve S 168—if passed medical marijuana use will be expanded to include other medical conditions in addition to epilepsy.


New Jersey

Governor Murphy really wants to fulfill his campaign promise and get recreational marijuana legalized in New Jersey. In fact, he wants to follow Illinois’ lead and just do it without having it put to a vote. The state legislator might be ready to vote on it again this fall; however, supporters don’t want to take any chances. There’s a back-up plan in the works to get a referendum on the November ballot.


South Dakota

South Dakota groups filed not one but two petitions on the November 4th deadline advocating marijuana legalization. They’ll go down in history as the first state having both aspects of legalization on the same ballot. The petitions contained nearly double the number of signatures required by the state. That sounds like a pretty good indicator as to how that election’s going down, don’t you think?


What do Employers Really Think about Legalization?

For the moment, most employers feel left in the lurch. Marijuana legalization is obviously becoming widely accepted as a social drug and medical marvel. On the other hand, it’s considered a safety hazard at work. And, rightly so, because users tend to be laid back, lose track of time, and might be a bit clumsy. But, hey, in our defense, responsible people realize that you don’t show up for work with a buzz.

The keyword being responsible.

It’s those rule breakers that your boss really wants to weed out. The problem with legalization and drug testing is current drug testing methods detect the metabolites left in the system rather than the parent drug. Unfortunately, marijuana metabolites stow away in the body much longer than the buzz lasts—no matter which drug testing method the company uses.

That doesn’t bode well for pot smokers or medical cannabis users; however, employers feel the “better safe than sorry” approach is all they’ve got to go on right now. So, for the time being, if we light up after hours or consume edibles and oils, we’re putting ourselves at risk.


Up in Arms

It stands to reason that advocates for marijuana legalization feel that since the drug’s metabolites remain in the system for extended periods employers should remove it from company drug tests entirely. For instance, if you’re a chronic user urine tests may detect THC over a month after discontinuing use! Many supporters claim it’s an infringement of privacy, especially, where pre-employment drug testing is concerned.

In fact, Nevada and New York City have laws taking effect in January and May, respectively, of 2020 banning marijuana from pre-employment drug tests. Everyone’s not off the hook yet, though. They’ve left some carve-outs in place pertaining to safety-sensitive positions.


Carve-outs Can be the Key

Marijuana legalization and the workplace can strike a happy medium with some forethought put into the matter. For the time being, state and city governments putting limits on marijuana drug testing are likely to leave carve-outs in place allowing for continued testing in certain instances.

The fact that there’s a drug test linked to the position must be included in the job description, of course, so employees have the information in front of them from the start. This leaves the employer with a leg to stand on and we have the choice of whether we’re going to take the risk or not. That seems fair, don’t you think?

I mean, let’s face it, even those of us who use marijuana don’t care to be subjected to someone causing an accident—either in the workplace or on the road—that we wind up involved in because someone else is high.

That’s just not right.


We Need a Test for Current Impairment

That’s going to be a great day, isn’t it?

Alcohol is a legal drug but there’s no question that it’s addictive and destroys lives. There’s also no doubt about how it’s handled at work. If you get busted with alcohol on your breath, game over. That’s the way it should be with pot too.

The alcohol breathalyzer revolutionized the industry when it was first introduced. The same will happen when marijuana breathalyzer hits the market. It will virtually end the angst we suffer if we’re legally allowed to use medical cannabis. It will allow recreational users to fire up the good stuff on their off-hours without the worry of a company drug test hanging over our heads.

Even if we don’t obsess about it, the “what if” thought pops in our heads from time to time, doesn’t it? That won’t happen anymore if we know we don’t show up for work high or after recently self-medicating.

Guess what!

A few companies are working feverishly to get a breathalyzer that detects both marijuana and alcohol on the market. One is even in the final stages of field-testing!  When they’re released, this should provide a fair solution to the company drug testing issue where marijuana is concerned.

Employers will have a tool to incorporate into their plan of action. We don’t know how they’ll work it all out yet of course. Maybe we’ll have to take the old school test and only prove we aren’t stoned at the moment if it comes back positive. Maybe we’ll all just blow into the machine from the get-go.

Whatever policies are put into place, our employers aren’t out to get us personally. They’re just doing their jobs. A lot of families depend on them to not only provide income but to do all they can to make sure employees are safe while earning that well-deserved wage.

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