The debate on marijuana has been going on for years. Even though the drug is now legal in some states, the debate continues to rage on. Nevertheless, one aspect of marijuana use is certainly not up for argument: the drug doesn’t belong in the workplace.
Yes, marijuana can treat a variety of diseases and conditions, but it also comes with many negative side effects, both short term (severe anxiety, forgetfulness, hallucinations, panic, lowered reaction time) and long term (decline in IQ, impaired thinking, inability to learn and perform new and complex tasks, addiction, lower life satisfaction, antisocial behavior). Clearly, none of these symptoms do the workplace any favor. This is why a random employee drug-testing policy that tests for marijuana, as well as other drugs and alcohol, is a must for all businesses.
There are certain behaviors observed in employees who use marijuana that are detrimental not only to employee relationships, but to overall operations as well. These are:
- Loss of focus
- Slower reaction and decision-making skills
- Increased workers’ compensation claim filings
Left unchecked, these behaviors can eventually hurt the morale and productivity of the workforce. In addition, they can also be a liability to safety. From these negative effects, it’s easy to conclude that marijuana users are less reliable, less alert, and less safe than other employees who do not use marijuana.
The good news for employers is that laws legalizing marijuana use, for whatever purpose, do not eliminate their rights to maintain drug-free workplaces. Marijuana is still listed as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, and thus it remains illegal under federal law.
Simply put, as long as marijuana is considered illegal under federal law, employers do not violate any Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) statutes if they refuse to hire marijuana users. Likewise, the ADA does not require any special accommodation for disabled employees who are registered medical marijuana users.
Of course, as marijuana laws continue to change, the best thing for an employer is to pay attention to the current laws and regulations regarding marijuana in the workplace. Be sure that all the information you have about your specific industry’s drug policies are thorough and up to date. Finally, it is crucial to partner with a pre-employment drug testing clinic, such as U.S. HealthWorks, that’s familiar with current laws.
Legalizing Marijuana: How Can Businesses Drug Test Employees? MobileHealthExams.com
ACOEM Guidance on Marijuana in the Workplace: Keeping Employers Sane Amidst the Reefer Madness, LexisNexis.com