Legalization of Marijuana and Drug Testing In The Workplace Collide
Drug testing in the workplace is certainly on the rise in the United States, and the reason is easy to explain. State governments across the nation are relaxing restrictions on the use of marijuana. Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, and The District of Columbia have actually legalized the drug for recreational use. Another twenty-three states have legalized it for medical purposes. There are currently sixteen states, plus the District of Columbia, that have decriminalized the possession of marijuana. Only twenty states follow federal law that strictly prohibits the use and possession of this often misunderstood, and widely used drug, and this is bound to change soon. Marijuana advocates firmly believe that there is a solid chance that a minimum of eleven more states will legalize the drug for recreational use in the very near future.
Recent figures from one of the largest drug testing companies in the country, Quest Diagnostics, prove that positive test results for marijuana usage in the workforce increased by a significant 6.2-percent in the United States as a whole in 2013. Marijuana use was the major factor that significantly contributed to the first overall rise in positive drug tests since 2003. That being stated, positive test results for marijuana usage increased far more significantly in states where the drug had already been legalized. For example, Washington showed an increase of an incredible 23-percent, and Colorado followed closely behind at 20-percent. Of course, the report was released prior to the recreational and medical legalization of the drug in multiple states. There is absolutely zero doubt that a discrepancy between marijuana legalization and workplace drug testing in those states currently exists.
The question most definitely remains, where does that leave both employers and employees? Many businesses are in the process of deciding between two extremes in order to effectively deal with this issue. They include the significant tightening of company policies regarding positive marijuana test results verse considerably reducing those same policies. Apparently tightening them would result in keeping users of the drug out of their workforce, while policy reduction would avoid driving away qualified workers.
Two competing concerns are at stake here. Employee privacy and self-esteem goes head to head with workplace productivity and safety concerns. Businesses are now facing increased legal challenges from their employees that realize state law allows them to use marijuana on their own personal time, as long as the usage is away from the workplace. Although lawsuits of this nature have vastly multiplied, most actually favor the employers. From a technical standpoint, companies may abide by their own drug testing policies. Until the day that the federal law changes, employers may prohibit the use of marijuana even outside of the workplace. Typically the local and state court systems tend to favor the federal law.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently published a survey that showed approximately 10-percent of adults that are employed full-time use drugs. This number is vastly increasing most likely due to the use of marijuana. That being said, far more research needs to be conducted to derive a solution that is fair to both employers and employees. Until that time, company policies regarding the use of drugs will remain to be all over the map. If you happen to use marijuana in states where the drug is legal, you must continue to take precautions in order to avoid being fired from your job.