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September 23rd, 2016 | Sterling

It’s High Time You Reviewed Your Company’s Drug Policy

The Latest Form I-9 Updates You Need To See | Sterling

Over the past ten years, there have been changes to laws governing medicinal and recreational marijuana use across the United States. Twenty-three states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana in some form. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and 25 million Americans have used marijuana in the past year with 14 million of these using the drug on a regular basis.

Legalization of Marijuana Issues

The legalization of marijuana usage for medicinal or recreational purposes doesn’t remove the many reasons for screening for this drug, including workplace safety, productivity and health concerns. In fact, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently issued a report affirming that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision. The Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) also have data to support the DEA report. They found:

  • A minimum of 24-hour acute impairment is standard after marijuana use
  • One in ten marijuana users will become dependent to the point of needing treatment
  • There is two to five times greater use of other drugs when marijuana is the onset drug
  • Drug abusers are less productive, have increased absenteeism and are more likely to be a danger to themselves and their co-workers

The legalization of marijuana use has forced employers to review their workplace drug policies. Marijuana Legalization: Why Its High Time You Reviewed Your Company’s Drug Policy provides insights to help a company decide if it is time to update their drug acceptance policy, how the courts have ruled in workplace marijuana use cases and how take steps to ensure your drug testing practices are legally compliant and most importantly suited to your company’s needs.

Courts Finds For The Employer

In the states where marijuana usage is legal, advocates say that employees using marijuana should not be sanctioned for responsible marijuana use off the job, even if it is medically prescribed. However, the courts do not agree. Court rulings have come down on the side of the employer allowing them to fire employees for using marijuana, even off of the job. As long as private employers apply their drug-free policies in a neutral manner, courts have held that banning drug use on the job is not discriminatory. If a business has a clear, concise and consistent drug policy, it is allowable to terminate an employee based on a drug test showing presence of marijuana in the employee’s system during work hours.

Assess Your Workplace Drug Policy

It makes sense to ensure that your company’s drug testing polices protect your organization to suit your needs. Companies who promote a drug-free environment will need to review their policy with legal counsel, consistently apply drug testing policies across all candidates and employees and consider the health and safety of all workers in the application of the predetermined drug screening policy. It has been proven that a company’s drug polices, including a drug screening program, will reinforce the best practices in drug prevention. Having the right drug policies in place will help enforce safety standards in the interest of public health and safety.

For more information and to understand what marijuana usage legalization and how it affects the workplace download our white paper here.

Marijuana Legalization: Why It’s High Time You Reviewed Your Company’s Drug Policy

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.