Marijuana is now legal or decriminalized to varying degrees in a number of states. Unfortunately, some confused employees may think that makes it perfectly fine to report to work or to a job interview under the influence. Across the nation, medical and safety-sensitive positions still generally include drug testing as part of the employment screening process. And it’s almost never OK to show up for work stoned, even in states that have legalized marijuana.
In Oregon, where recreational marijuana recently was legalized, employees of various cities have been warned that showing up to work high still constitutes a policy violation, The Oregonian reports. Most city policies revolve around a common theme: Workers may smoke when they’re off the clock, but they may not arrive at work stoned. For workers whose jobs involve driving or dealing with safety issues, federal law still prohibits using marijuana at any time.
Quickly changing laws
Use, possession, cultivation, sale or transportation of marijuana remain illegal under U.S. federal law, but individual states may decriminalize the drug for medical or recreational use. In 2013, Colorado became the first state to adopt rules for recreational use of the drug. As of July 2015, marijuana is legal at the state level in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington. Ten states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and 12 have decriminalization laws along with medical marijuana. In 22 states, any use of marijuana remains illegal.
Legalized marijuana and employment
In some states that have legalized marijuana, pre-employment screening rates for the drug appear to be increasing. And a recent survey indicates that in Colorado, one in five employers has initiated tougher drug-testing policies since legalization, the Denver Post reports. Despite the legal status in some places, courts so far have backed employers’ rights to fire employees who use marijuana, even when off duty.
None of that appears to be stopping some people from smoking before reporting to work and even before job interviews. One study indicates that positive results for pre-employment drug testing are up nearly 6 percent since 2011, and experts say employers are having a tough time finding prospective workers who can pass drug tests.
What’s next for employers?
Most U.S. employers aren’t legally required to test for drugs, and some states and local governments have laws in place that prohibit or limit workplace testing for their employees unless required by the federal government for certain positions. As the legal landscape evolves, private employers will continue to develop policies that respect employees’ free time while abiding by the law and establishing clear policies for the workplace.
Disclaimer Statement: All information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide professional or legal advice regarding actions to take in any situation.