Fewer employers opting to test for marijuana use
- With more states and municipalities legalizing marijuana, fewer employers are testing for the substance, Bloomberg reports. In Colorado, 77% of employers tested for marijuana in 2016; last year, that number dropped to 66%, according to a study of 609 companies by the Mountain States Employers Council.
- Marijuana is now legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., which means people can use the substance as they please, says Bloomberg. That, combined with a tight labor market, has driven some employers to end pre-employment testing for marijuana. Companies in the states where medicinal or recreational marijuana use is now legal are doing the least testing.
- Last year's Federal Reserve surveys attribute the hiring problem in part to applicants' failure to pass drug tests, says Bloomberg. Failed tests peaked in 2017, according to data from Quest Diagnostics Inc. Bloomberg says the problem will likely worsen as marijuana use widens.
In addition to movement by state and local legislatures, marijuana users in several states have received favorable work-related court rulings, too. A Rhode Island Superior Court judge ruled against a local fabrics company after a woman alleged the business refused to hire her for an internship due to her use of medical marijuana. And in Massachusetts, the state’s highest court determined that an employee could proceed with a lawsuit alleging that her termination for medical marijuana use violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.
If they haven't already, employers with zero-tolerance policies may soon see reason to relax their rules on marijuana, says outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, as one in eight people now reportedly use the drug. Allowing use might not be practical for all workplaces or roles, but for positions where safety isn't an issue, such a move could help employers compete in the tight labor market.
In addition, it is becoming increasingly risky to retaliate against or fire workers who use the drug away from the workplace on their own time; last month, Maine became the first state to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on their marijuana or marijuana byproduct use outside of work.