Employers are continuing to change the way they approach the topic of cannabis. As medical and recreational weed become legal in more states, and as cannabis use becomes decriminalized, employers are finding it increasingly unproductive to require employees to take cannabis drug tests. Now, new reports indicate that more employers are getting rid of marijuana testing altogether.
A Shift Away From Marijuana Testing
According to the Associated Press, employers around the country are moving away from marijuana testing. In the past, it was pretty standard practice to make employees take drug tests. Typically, these tests would also screen for cannabis.
These drug tests are often given to current employees. In some cases, companies make employees take regularly recurring drug tests, or sometimes random ones.
Most frequently, drug and marijuana tests are given to new employees. It’s often part of the final stages of hiring before a job applicant officially starts a new job.
These drug tests can quickly jeopardize a person’s current job. Likewise, they can suddenly derail a person’s chance of getting a job. In the most strict companies, even an incredibly talented and qualified employee can instantly find themselves in hot water if they test positive for weed.
Now, experts are starting to point out that these tests are counterproductive. As the AP puts it, “experts say it excludes too many potential workers at a time when filling jobs is more challenging than it’s been in nearly two decades.”
More specifically, a study from 2016 found that 4.6 percent of job applicants failed a drug test. That number might seem small, but in context, it’s actually quite large. In fact, that was the highest percentage of failed drug tests since 2004, when 4.5 percent of applicants failed drug tests.
And it all adds up, making it harder for employers to find workers to fill positions. Now, as employers recognize this, they are beginning to move away from using drug tests that screen for cannabis.
The Problems with Marijuana Drug Tests
While the most pressing issue for employers might be finding people to hire, there are also a couple other pressing problems surrounding drug tests. In particular, there are problems with drug tests that screen for cannabis.
The first glaring problem is that there’s no way to accurately test for the timing of a person’s cannabis consumption. Depending on the frequency of use, THC can stay in a person’s system for several days and even weeks. But even a light smoker will still test positive for THC days after actually smoking weed.
What this means is that a person can smoke weed in their own private time away from work, and although they’re completely sober at work, they can still fail the drug test.
This problem is compounded in states where weed is legal. In these states, employees have pushed back. Typically, they argue that it doesn’t make sense to get punished for doing something that is completely legal.
More Employers are Getting Rid of Marijuana Testing
Taking all this together, many are beginning to see marijuana testing as outdated, counterproductive, and a waste of time. In fact, employees in weed-legal states have already won key legal cases.
For example, the state of Massachusetts ruled last year that employees cannot be fired for using medical marijuana. Similar legal cases have come down in favor of cannabis consumers in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and other weed-friendly states.