Legalized Marijuana and the Workplace

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Resulting from the election, more states have voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana. California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts now join 26 other states and D.C. in passing legalization laws in some form. With other states and more expansive laws sure to come, how are employers going to test for and handle employees using marijuana?

Will Workplace Policy Change in Recreationally Legalized States?

No. The new measures will “not affect employers’ current marijuana policies or their ability to establish workplace restrictions on marijuana consumption by employees.” It is like alcohol if you think about it, employers have the right to restrict the use or prohibit the use of substances on workplace premises. The laws will most likely lead to further laws that formally change how employers higher people who smoke marijuana.

How Will Drug Testing Work?

The policies for drug testing might have to be adapted because of the longevity of marijuana. The compound THC-COOH, which is what’s tested for, can appear in your system 90 days after using marijuana. Whereas alcohol is metabolized at about one ounce per hour, so a person with a blood alcohol content of .015 can have a clean system in 10 hours or less. Lawmakers have acknowledged the wide margin of error if an alcoholic manages to go a few hours without a drink for a clean test, yet a person who relieves chronic pain by smoking marijuana will fail.

How Concerned are Employers?

In a survey by Employers Insurance that polled 500 small-business owners with fewer than 100 employees, it was found that a fifth of them would allow an employee with a medical marijuana prescription to use at work. Further, 80 percent said they were unconcerned about employees coming to work high and 42 percent had no written policies about using, possessing or being under the influence of marijuana at work.

As more states take the lead of those already legalizing, lawmakers will need to find new ways to incorporate the substance effectively and appropriately into established institutions. Employers will need to decide how to handle use with their employees.

If your business is in need of a reliable and accurate workplace drug testing program, please contact ARCpoint Labs today.

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