There is no doubt, that laws surrounding the use of marijuana are rapidly changing throughout the country. As of the day this post was written, there were 36 states plus the District of Columbia (D.C.) that allow the medical use of marijuana, and 18 states and D.C. that have legalized its recreational use. However, do not let this confuse you with the laws surrounding the workplace.
Can my company still restrict drug use?
Nearly every state either specifically permits employers to ban the use of marijuana by their employees, or they do not have any applicable laws, which inevitably allows employers to develop internal policies banning the use of marijuana and THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets you “high”, products. So, what does this all mean? . . . In nearly every state, an employer can test for and subsequently discipline any employee who test positive for marijuana or any other Federally illegal drug, also known as a Schedule I Drug. Even in Colorado, in almost every case an employer can terminate an employee for testing positive for THS, and companies do not have to accommodate for the use of medical marijuana at the workplace, unlike traditional disability laws.
The primary reason for this is because it is impossible for someone to determine how a certain level of THC in the body can affect a person’s impairment. Unlike alcohol and measuring a person’s blood alcohol level, there is no comparable test for THC. Therefore, any measurable level of THS in the body could lead to a level of impurity that would prevent a worker from safely and or efficiently conducting their duties. As you can image, this fact makes it critical for companies, especially in safety-sensitive, industries to enforce drug free work zones, even in states that allow for the use of medical and/or recreational marijuana.
I Smoked Legally, Now What?
So, let’s say you were living in Colorado, California, Michigan, or one of the other states where pot is legal and you smoked from time to time, but you recently moved to let’s say North Carolina and are seeking a job in construction. Chances are, if you are like most American, the THC will remain in your system for about 30 days. Thus, if you used BlueRecruit, got a couple of interviews with some awesome companies and are now required to take a drug test, the most important thing you can do is be honest with the employer prior to the test. The final decision on employment will likely come down to the employer’s HR and insurance policies, but you may be able to delay the test and subsequent employment until an adequate amount of time has passed to test negative for THC. A second option would be to request an “oral fluid test”. Oral fluid test, unlike the more common urine based exams, can determine if the marijuana use was recent (i.e. since you moved to North Carolina); however, these test are more expensive and I would suggest you offer to pay for the exam yourself (after all, you want this job right?).
The laws surrounding marijuana are rapidly changing, and you almost have to be an HR pro to fully understand all the details. But my advice on this subject is simple. . . if you are job hunting or in a role where your safety and that of others is paramount, DON’T SMOKE IT, DON’T EAT IT, Just DON’T touch the stuff.