There are currently no rules that specifically regulate whether or not dispensary employees can be allowed to use cannabis on or off work, and employees' cannabis use policy is generally at the discretion of store owners and managers. Employers with 9 or more employees cannot discriminate against applicants or employees based on their past or present status as holders of medical marijuana cards or as designated caregivers of a physically disabled medical marijuana patient. Employers can take adverse action against the employee based on a good faith belief that the employee used, possessed, or was harmed by medical marijuana on company property or during working hours. A positive drug test alone is not sufficient reason for a good faith belief.
However, employers can exclude employees from safety-sensitive positions based on a positive drug test. Thirty-seven states now allow adults to use marijuana for medical, recreational, or both. But in most of those states, people can be fired or denied a job for using cannabis in their spare time. Cannabis legalization advocates want states to do more to protect.
They point out that workplace drug testing does not measure if a person is drugged at the time of the test, only if they have used it recently. And they say that drug testing in the workplace is an issue of equity, since testing is more common in manual labor and disproportionately affects non-white workers. But certain employers are required to test marijuana under federal law, the federal government classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug similar to heroin, and others want to make sure they don't employ drug users who may threaten workplace safety. So far, 14 states and Washington, D, C.
New Jersey and New York Prohibit Employers from Discriminating Against Workers Who Legally Use Marijuana for Medical or Recreational Purposes. And Nevada prohibits employers from refusing to hire someone solely because they don't pass a marijuana test. Laws generally make exceptions for certain employers and occupations. But bills have stumbled elsewhere due to opposition from business groups and disagreements over how to measure marijuana poisoning.
A bill introduced in Washington State has already been introduced this session. A California Bill Has Been Assigned to a Committee, But It Has Not Yet Moved On. And, in light of opposition, a Colorado bill will be softened to study the issue. The initial version of the Colorado bill would have affirmed the right of medical marijuana patients to use cannabis products on the job and would have prevented employers from firing or refusing to hire workers who use marijuana outside of work.
Two weeks after filing the bill in early February, State Rep. Edie Hooton, a Democrat, told Stateline she planned to scrap it. Instead, it will propose that state officials summon employers, medical cannabis users and prescribers to study the topic of workplace testing. A number of employer groups had opposed Hooton's initial bill, including the state Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Mining Association.
The Colorado Mining Association has consistently opposed bills that would prevent employers from maintaining a drug-free workplace, said the association's president. Drug use can create safety problems at work, he said. senator from the state of Colorado. Chris Holbert, a Republican who last year backed a law that allows school staff to administer medical cannabis to children while they are in school, said employers should be able to drug test workers for marijuana if they want to.
He emphasized that when Colorado voters legalized marijuana, they wrote that authority into the state constitution. But employers must make an informed decision, he added. Federal contractors and companies that employ certain regulated professionals, such as airline pilots and school bus drivers, must test workers for drugs. They could decide to drug test workers as part of a job application, randomly, after an accident, if they suspect a worker is intoxicated, or in all four situations.
“Today, most of the nation's largest private sector companies have some form of drug testing program,” said Barry Sample, senior scientific consultant for employer solutions at Quest Diagnostics, a global laboratory company that processes drug tests in the workplace. Of the Quest Diagnostics processes that are not required by the federal government, Sample said, approximately three-quarters are part of job applications. Amazon, the country's second largest private employer after Walmart, announced plans last summer to stop requiring job candidates to pass a marijuana drug test (the company will continue testing at other times, such as after work-related accidents). Amazon executives have said that the growing number of states legalizing marijuana, concerns about equity and the tight labor market were taken into account in their decision.
Continuing difficulties for companies recruiting and retaining workers may encourage more of them to abandon marijuana testing, said Melissa Moore, director of civil systems reform for Drug Policy Alliance, a national non-profit organization that advocates ending punitive drug laws. Employers may be unnecessarily blocking people from certain positions, Moore said. Legislative debates about whether to protect workers who use cannabis legally often stagnate in debates about workplace safety and how to measure cannabis poisoning. It's an unsolvable problem.
There is no breathalyzer for marijuana or a national legal limit to determine if someone has a dangerous level of psychoactive cannabis compounds in their body. Proponents of cannabis legalization point out that cannabis compounds can stay in the body for weeks, if not months. That makes failing a marijuana drug test similar to failing a sobriety test because you had a glass of wine two weeks ago, said Moore of the Drug Policy Alliance. It's easy for police to test drivers for alcohol deterioration with a breathalyzer.
It is much more difficult to detect and examine them for drug deterioration. Meanwhile, employer groups say business owners should be able to maintain a drug-free workplace if they want to. The Colorado Restaurant Association's main concern regarding Hooton's original bill was language that allowed employees to use medical marijuana on the job, said Mollie Steinemann, the association's government affairs manager, in a telephone interview. Restaurants involve tight workspaces and hazards, from knives to open flames and fryers, he said.
Allowing workers to use intoxicating substances on the job could lead to accidents and potentially the loss of an establishment's liquor license. The same goes for other intoxicating substances, including prescription drugs and alcohol, Steinemann added in an email to Stateline. Sample, from Quest Diagnostics, argued that while workplace marijuana tests do not measure deterioration, they can nevertheless point to behaviors that could predispose someone to occupational accidents. Workers are more likely to fail marijuana tests after a workplace incident than when they are applying for a job, he said.
Successful worker protection laws in other states often include exemptions for certain jobs. Such exemptions led groups that previously opposed the legislation, such as the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada Trucking Association, to take a neutral stance on the matter. Hooton, the Colorado state legislator, said previous Colorado bills that aimed to protect cannabis users at work failed because sponsors didn't do enough to get employers, unions and other stakeholders. Minimum Wage, Marijuana, and Medicaid Initiatives Could Be Undermined.
Daily update of original state policy reports, plus the five most important readings of the day on the Internet. Don't miss our latest data, findings and survey results on The Rundown. Popular Stereotypes Suggest People Who Smoke Marijuana Are Lazy and Confusing. But there is a long history of medicinal applications; medical cannabis can be used to reduce anxiety, inflammation and relieve pain, control nausea and chemotherapy compromise, and even kill cancer cells, and is used to treat patients with Alzheimer's disease, cancer, severe and chronic pain and other ailments.
It is illegal for federal employees to use marijuana in any form: smoke, groceries, tinctures, pens, etc. So if a federal employee living in DC uses marijuana, she will most likely have to quit her federal job because she will be removed, most likely for misconduct or suitability reasons. Employers are not required to allow employees to smoke marijuana on company premises or allow employees to work under the influence of marijuana. .