Despite today’s increasingly legal landscape, employees can still be drug tested for cannabis. Even in states where the plant is legal for recreational purposes, places of employment can still drug test for weed if they choose to do so, and employees have little protection against them doing so.
However, while the actual act of smoking cannabis might be somewhat justifiable, depending on the nature of the job, there are a few bizarre cases in which employees still find themselves on the “unemployed” side of things, despite not actually taking a puff of the green. This was allegedly the case in San Fransisco, where a woman claims she was not hired due to her cannabis-infused lip balm.
Woman Claims Weed Lip Balm Cost Her A Job
According to a report from ABC 11, a San Francisco woman believes she was bypassed for a job because she tested positive for weed—even though she claims she doesn’t smoke. However, she pinpointed a cannabis-infused lip balm as the source of her drug test woes.
“My drug test came back positive for weed, except I don’t smoke or eat weed products. What I discovered is I use a lip balm that has weed in it.”
Cannabis-infused oils, tinctures, and balms have become increasingly popular in the recreational cannabis industry. According to industry experts, topicals can provide medical relief, via cannabinoids, without actually getting the user high.
Although most topicals, again, don’t have any psychoactive qualities, they can appear, show up on a drug test. However, many in the industry question the merits of such a test, considering the user is not impaired.
Dr. Frank Lucido, a doctor that has prescribed medical marijuana for years, thinks testing for marijuana is largely unnecessary. According to the doctor, unlike alcohol, a drug test for cannabis will only determine whether or not marijuana is in a person’s system, rather than test for actual impairment.
“The important thing about drug testing for Cannabis, it doesn’t test for impairment, unlike alcohol. And a number of other drugs,” Lucido said in the ABC report.
The woman, who applied for a driving position at a Mercedes Benz dealership, was ultimately denied the position. However, despite the controversial drug test, the dealership told ABC they stand by their decision.
“The applicant was applying for a position that required the driving of vehicles 100 percent of the time. We have an obligation to protect the safety of the employee, co-workers, customers, and public.”
Drug Testing In A Legal Landscape
While the company’s decision seems somewhat unjust, by law, their decision does have merit.
While Proposition 64 officially legalized recreational weed throughout the state of California, employers still have the right to drug test for cannabis should they see fit. In fact, cities throughout California have the basic right to deny weed sales themselves, due to its lingering Schedule I status by the Federal government.
“Although it’s been decriminalized for use, employers are still able to treat it as an unlawful drug, because under federal law it is still a Schedule 1 unlawful substance,” Holly Sutton, an attorney specializing in employment law, told the news site.
While weed-legal states do have the authority to crack down on their employees, states like Colorado have, ultimately, seen a drop in marijuana drug-testing.
According to a Colorado survey conducted by the Mountain States Employers Council, drug testing for marijuana dropped from 77% of employers in 2014—the first year of recreational sales in Colorado to just 62% three years later.
Brian Kropp, group vice president at Gartner’s HR practice, told NBC News he thinks this is a trend that isn’t going anywhere.
“The court cases seem to indicate that you can’t fire people for smoking marijuana when they’re not on the clock,” Kropp said.