US Drug Test Centers Blog

Testing for Marijuana: What Do Employers Need to Know?

Posted: Dec 20 2022

workplace meeting

By: Marquisha Blanche

The cannabis industry has changed significantly over the last few years — and so has how we use it. These constant changes blur the lines for employers. If your employees are allowed to smoke weed or take edibles at home, does that mean they can do it at work? If cannabis is legal in your state, is it okay for employees to carry it to work? How can you manage testing for marijuana at work, when it’s becoming more and more prevalent over time?

While the specific laws vary from state to state, this blog will offer general guidelines and important things to keep in mind when it comes to testing for marijuana in the workplace.

Marijuana is Still Illegal Under Federal Law

Is marijuana legal in your state? That doesn't necessarily matter, in terms of your workplace. This is because at the federal level (with very rare exceptions), all marijuana and marijuana products are illegal. This also means that they're subject to criminal law enforcement via the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

We know this might be confusing! Essentially, in the US, the federal government doesn't have complete control over state laws. This is why marijuana can be legal in your state but illegal federally.

This is where things get even more interesting for employers...

You Can Test for Marijuana in the Workplace

Regardless of the status of its legality, marijuana is still a psychotropic drug. It impairs users mentally and physically and, needless to say, can seriously hamper their ability to perform efficiently, accurately, and safely at work. This is good news for employers since we know that lost productivity and absenteeism in the workplace due to drug abuse costs employers more than $25 billion each year.

Testing for marijuana in the workplace can be even more important depending on your type of business and what roles your employees serve. For example, if an employee who works directly with customers shows up to work high, you've got a big problem on your hands. If a team member regularly manages machinery or heavy equipment, and they come to work smelling like weed, somebody can get seriously hurt.

For companies that operate under the Department of Transportation (DOT), the rules and regulations are even more stringent. (Learn more about our DOT drug testing services.)

Even for people with quiet desk jobs, marijuana can seriously hinder their productivity, efficiency, accuracy, and motivation.

Woman sitting at her laptop stressed out

Remember, even one person showing up for work high can have an impact on everyone in the workplace. It can hurt morale, slow your output, and put people in physical danger. On-the-job accidents and theft increase right alongside drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace.

If you think that marijuana use at work can't be that common, remember this: Some research says that as many as one-third of employees have observed cannabis use during work hours. And yet, less than half of organizations have a written policy that addresses the drug.

The one exception is that employers cannot discriminate against individuals who use marijuana for medical reasons.

Having a Solid Drug-Free Workplace Policy is a Must

An air-tight policy protects you as the business owner, your business itself, and all of the people who work in it. It outlines all of the very important details about your workplace drug and alcohol testing. These points include:

  • What substances you test for.
  • How you test for them (urine drug testing, hair drug testing, breathalyzers, etc.).
  • When you test (random testing, reasonable suspicion drug testing, etc.).
  • How you select people for random drug testing.
  • What happens if an employee tests positive.
  • What happens if an employee refuses to take a drug test.

Outlining these points in a crystal clear manner is vital for your business. For example, if you conduct random drug testing, you need to make your employees aware of how exactly you ensure that you choose people at random. This prevents anyone from claiming they were discriminated against. Handling positive drug tests is another important consideration. Will the employee get a second chance? Unpaid time off? If you find that it's repeated abuse, will you guide them in getting help?

Ultimately, a drug-free workplace policy limits liabilities, clarifies what everyone's rights are, reduces crime and accidents, and saves you money.

Two women smiling and laughing in the workplace

This isn't something to take lightly. Find out how US Drug Test Centers can help you with your drug-free workplace policy and manual to ensure that you're always protected. Training your team, along with your designated employer representative (DER), are also important, in addition to ordering tests and managing results. We are here to help!

Testing for Marijuana in the Workplace Matters

Even though our society might be becoming laxer when it comes to marijuana consumption, that doesn't mean it can't have a negative impact on your workplace. As you've learned in this blog, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. And, even if it's legal in your state, you can still drug test at work. Protect yourself and your employees with a crystal clear, detailed drug-free workplace policy.

If you're ready to take the next step in protecting your workplace, you can order a test online with US Drug Test Centers. We have more than 20,000 locations nationwide, making testing quick, convenient, and accessible. If you want to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today and speak with one of our caring professionals.

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