Why Do Some Companies Require Drug Tests?
Medical marijuana is legal in twenty-six states. Plus eight more have legalized marijuana for recreational use—including Maine, Massachusetts and of course the world’s sixth largest economy—California, recently. So in today’s new cannabis-friendly culture why do some employers still require a drug test? And why are they allowed to fire you if you don’t pass it? Basically, man, it’s to cover their ass.
Urine Drug Test Facts
Don’t believe us? According to leading drug testing lab Quest Diagnostic workplace drug testing happens because drug abuse in the workplace puts employers at a risk for increased accidents, more absenteeism, lower productivity and higher insurance costs. Urine testing, like all drug testing methodologies, helps to mitigate these risks by filtering out drug users from an employer’s workforce as well as deterring drug use within it.
Most employers aren’t legally obligated to test potential or current employees for drug use—especially marijuana. But the dudes from trade-schools.net claim that between 40 and 65 percent of today’s employers may perform drug screening or drug testing whether they are required to or not. Like we mentioned above, the decision to drug test is mainly to avoid potential legal liabilities for injuries caused by workers who may be intoxicated on the job. Some of them are looking to maintain worker productivity as well. Of course some employers—especially within safety-sensitive industries like healthcare, defense, law enforcement,and transportation—are required by federal law to administer alcohol and drug testing. And in some states employers can score specials discounts on workers’ compensation insurance if they perform a drug test. Plus in some industries like professional sports, education, and medical care employers drug test mainly to maintain a positive public perception.
Drug tests in cannabis states
What about states that have voted to legalize marijuana for adult use, can they still fire employees or not hire certain candidates who don’t pass a drug test? According to trade-schools.net in states like Colorado where marijuana use is legal, “some companies have enacted new or stricter drug testing policies because they fear that the state-legalized marijuana industry, despite being heavily regulated, could start infiltrating their workplaces.” So you better believe that some companies in weed-friendly states will still fire you for failing drug tests.
Anyhow even though eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use employers can still screen employees for using recreational or medical marijuana. That’s because drug test policies in many organizations don’t need to adhere to state marijuana laws. Plus under the federal Controlled Substances Act marijuana is still classified as an illegal Schedule I drug. That means that most employers feel that they have sufficient grounds for firing or refusing to hire people who test positive for smoking weed—regardless of whatever state laws may be in place. Don’t believe us? Well a number of court rulings side employers—even in states that have legalized recreational marijuana including Colorado where a judge cited federal law in determining that an employer was within its rights to fire an employee who tested positive for cannabis even though the employee held a valid medical marijuana card from that state. Sure some states have passed laws that prohibit the firing of employees who fail drug screenings but have been prescribed marijuana to treat their disabilities or medical conditions. However, federal law still overrules state law in this matter.
Ending mandatory drug tests
Until weed is federally legal for all adults to use for medical or recreational reasons employers can challenge state marijuana laws and win. It’s why, with few exceptions, American companies with drug-testing programs are not providing any accommodation to employees who use marijuana, even for those with valid prescriptions for it.
Do you work for an employer that drug tests? How do you feel about the possibility that medical marijuana users can be fired because they fail a drug test? Have any tips on how to pass a drug test for marijuana? Let us know in the comments section below.