As attitudes toward marijuana grow more lenient, will employer drug-testing policies go up in smoke?
By Tamara Lytle 5/21/2014, in HR Magazine
Changes in marijuana laws are sweeping the nation, state by state: Twenty states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed laws allowing marijuana to be used for medical reasons, and nine more are considering them.
Washington state and Colorado have legalized pot for adult recreational purposes, with 14 others weighing that idea. D.C. replaced the jail-time penalty for possessing small amounts with a fine.
By the end of this year, more than half of states are expected to have made marijuana use legal in some form or fashion.
“It’s a very vexing issue for employers who, for years, have tried to create drug-free workplaces and now must confront the reality of having ‘legal’ drug users on premises,” says Chris Geehern, executive vice president of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a trade group of 5,000 employers in a state that allows medical marijuana.
As an increasing number of Americans take a more lenient attitude toward marijuana, many employers appear to be standing behind their drug-testing policies. But the new state laws are causing confusion among employees and job applicants and giving HR professionals headaches about what they can and cannot enforce. Some also worry that the state laws may make it more difficult to find future workers who meet their organizations’ drug-testing criteria.