Last updated: September 25, 2023
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the active ingredient in marijuana. It stimulates the brain cells to release dopamine. Users experience a feeling of euphoria.
However, using marijuana also induces psychomotor impairment. This affects memory. In addition, marijuana use impairs motor skills. These are both serious issues for employers.
Banning pre-employment drug testing makes no sense to employers. In fact, it opens the door to banning marijuana testing completely.
And it’s hanging wide open.
Where does that path lead?
In addition to lowered productivity, employees who use marijuana pose a safety issue.
Impaired motor and thinking skills are nothing short of a job hazard. Everyone that comes in contact with the employee is at risk. That’s not to say every employee that uses marijuana will wreak havoc on the job site one way or the other by any means. Even if the chance is slim, though, it’s a chance.
Someone could be injured or lose their life in an extreme circumstance.
That is totally unacceptable.
We wonder if NYC’s mayor, Bill de Blasio (D) feels the same. The bill automatically became law after 30 days passed with no action from the mayor.
Accordingly, some find it unusual that he let the law go unsigned. He came out in support of marijuana legalization in December 2018.
At any rate, on May 1oth, NYC legislatures enacted the Prohibition of drug testing for pre-employment procedures law. It passed with a vote of 40-4 on April 9th. It goes into effect on May 10, 2020. From that date forward employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations must refrain from testing job applicants for marijuana and THC.
However, there are some exceptions to the new law.
Marijuana pre-employment drug testing remains in effect for:
- Police officers or peace officers
- Emergency responders
- Safety-related positions
- Jobs requiring security clearance
- People who supervise or care for children, medical patients or vulnerable persons
- Workers who operate vehicles requiring a commercial driver’s license
- Jobs tied to a federal or state contract or grant
Nevada’s on the other hand
The reasoning behind Nevada’s choice to ban pre-employment drug testing seems pretty cut and dried.
When voters chose to legalize marijuana in November 2016, they hit the ground running. The drug was available for purchase a short eight months later. The drug was so popular, dispensaries sold out soon after. In its first full year of legalization, marijuana sales totaled a staggering $425 million and $70 million of that went straight into the state’s pocket.
If you doubt that this astronomical financial boon had anything to do with state legislatures pursuing the ban on pre-employment testing for the drug, read on.
Governor Steve Sisolak stated on his official website, “Our marijuana industry is now a key part of our state economy, and to make sure it stays that way, we must hold it to the highest standard while empowering the industry to continue thriving.”
Now, tell me that there aren’t dollar signs dancing in his eyes.
Nevada constituents in favor of marijuana legalization have not been shy in speaking up about the unfairness of employers to be able to test for pot when it’s legal to use the drug off the clock. The reason being that people are being turned away for jobs with companies that have marijuana on their pre-employment drug test. They argue that just because someone smoked pot at some time prior to being offered a job should not keep them from being offered the position.
And, it’s a valid one. If someone tests positive for marijuana, it by no means is a sign that they were impaired by the drug at the time of the test. Marijuana breaks down in the body and the metabolites produced store themselves throughout the body, but mainly in the fat cells.
You know how our body likes to hold on to fat!
Someone who uses marijuana in any form can test positive for the drug for a varied length of time. It could be a few days or up to a month before the body cleanses itself. It all depends on how frequently one partakes.
However, there is currently no way to test for current impairment. Until there is a way to do so, employers should have every right to keep marijuana on the test. If for no other reason than to have a head’s up.
Thankfully, the Nevada law left some carve-outs. In addition to the fact that allowances have been made for continued testing of public safety and transportation professionals, there’s a second clause.
According to the new law, an employee that tests positive for pot after being hired can be denied continued employment if their position “could adversely affect the safety of others.” Of course, this portion of the law is open to interpretation.
Perhaps, employers should interpret it to mean that the safety factor must be stressed in all job descriptions possible. After all, safety at work pertains to everyone, not only for themselves but for everyone that comes into contact with them.
Up in arms
In short, banning pre-employment drug testing in NYC and Nevada set a precedent. Other governments, in both cities and states, are likely to follow suit.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand.
Employers must take a stance on this issue. Examine what the removal of marijuana from your drug testing protocol means to your company. Then, contact your state and local governments to express how you feel. Finally, ask others to do the same.
Employers bear every right to expect employees to be unimpaired in the workplace.
Other employees bear that right as well. They depend on you to provide a safe working environment.
That thought alone is cause for taking a stand against removing marijuana from pre-employment drug tests. For future reference, it also is the reason it should be allowed to remain on all company drug tests.
It is considered by some people to be a harmless drug. However, once someone’s family member is injured at work and marijuana is involved, they tend to realize the danger.