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Does Employment Drug Testing for Marijuana Still Make Sense?


One of the more interesting topics that is emerging daily in discussions with my diverse client group revolves around drug testing for marijuana as a part of a comprehensive approach to achieving and maintaining a drug free workplace. Historically speaking, the vast majority of drug screens used for employment purposes have always tested for marijuana. While the regulators and lawmakers will provide us with endless laws and guidance on this topic soon enough, in this moment there is a lot of discussion on both sides of this issue.

To test or not to test. That is the question.

Some say, if it is legal for recreational or medical use at the state level, then why test for it? The logic that I hear is that we do not routinely test for alcohol, so why test for marijuana? The Department of Labor for the state of Maine has announced that under the new recreational marijuana law, which is scheduled to go into effect in February, the majority of Maine businesses would no longer be able to test job applicants for marijuana use or fire an employee for a marijuana-positive drug test unless they could also prove use or impairment on the job.

Others are just as committed to building their companies without the added concern of hiring and employing those who use the drug. Logically, it is still a schedule 1 controlled substance at the Federal level. Isn’t that a law? Don’t we strive to be compliant with the rule of law, and not just the laws we agree with? Given the uncontrolled variables that can influence the effects of intoxication, not the least of which is inconsistent concentration and dosing, shouldn’t the testing for marijuana remain in place? This is a compelling question.

There is little doubt that impairment can hold very real threats to employee and public safety.

In speaking with drug testing manufacturers, there are a couple who are putting drug screen instant tests into production that do not test for Marijuana. Interestingly, many are not producing and do not currently plan to produce or sell instant tests without marijuana as a panel. We can customize a lab based test with any of our lab based testing partners, but none of the major labs are currently offering standard testing without marijuana as a panel. The demand for tests without marijuana is still very low.

Should employers have the ability to decide if they will drug test for marijuana?

If they don’t find their voice on this issue the opportunity to influence the legislative and policy making bodies is passing very quickly. What are your thoughts?

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.