Workplace Drug Test Policies Unaffected by Legalized Marijuana

Is a candidate thinking about sparking one up before starting a new job? They might want to reconsider!

Legal experts agree that no matter how many places legalize marijuana, the American workforce should expect it to be regulated in a way similar to alcohol when it comes to their employers.

Whether you believe mandatory drug and alcohol testing promotes workplace safety and protects the company, or that it violates privacy and promotes discrimination, one thing is clear: the company will protect itself at all costs.

The tricky thing about Marijuana is that, unlike alcohol, there isn’t really a test to measure the level of impairment as is the case with a breathalyzer. In most cases an organization will opt for a zero-tolerance policy to mitigate any risk, and as the US District Court for the District of New Mexico proved just a few short weeks ago, medical marijuana laws will not typically include requirements mandating that employers accommodate medical marijuana cardholders.

New Mexico isn’t the only place either. Prior to this one there have been similar cases in California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington.

So how is it that despite laws like New Mexico’s Compassionate Use Act being passed, companies are still being sided with when presented with wrongful termination suits? It’s fairly simple: The Federal Controlled Substances Act still prohibits marijuana and supercedes limited state-law immunity.

Being that 23 states and Washington DC have now legalized medical marijuana, the challenge is for companies to protect themselves should they be caught between state and federal laws.

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