Last updated: December 4, 2023
According to a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, employee drug testing is nothing more than absurd and illogical. We’d like to have its author, Dr. Boehnke—a research assistant professor and director of controversial compounds in the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of Anesthesiology and Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center—take a look at this group of siblings as we beg to differ. They’re pretty adorable, aren’t they?
The world is becoming increasingly “all about me” minded. Subsequently, employee drug testing is being targeted as having a negative impact on society, as a whole. It seems as if everyone forgot the number one reason that employers drug test in the first place.
It’s for safety’s sake
No one deserves to get up and go to work to provide a living for those they love only to be involved in a workplace accident. Lives change in an instant—sometimes forever, Dr. B. It’s devastating enough when an accident happens, but discovering that the individual who caused the accident was impaired by drug use—
It should never happen and workplace drug testing goes a long way toward prevention.
President Ronald Regan established the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 to curb drug use in the military. It had become such a huge problem he was moved to issue Executive Order 1254 banning all federal employees (on and off duty) from using drugs. The law required all employers of the safety-sensitive workforce and other federal entities to follow a mandated drug-free protocol. It included a urine drug test.
The mandated test looks for the following drug classes:
- Opiates—including opium and codeine derivatives
- Amphetamines and methamphetamines
- Phencyclidine, otherwise known as PCP
President Regan urged employers of the general workplace to begin to follow suit—and they did.
Marijuana legalization threw a big wrench in the works
As states continue to legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes, employers who continue to test for the drug are coming under fire. Some have even quietly removed pot from the company drug test. Many others, though, continue to stand firm and—for the time being anyway—the federal government stands behind them.
Marijuana is listed as Schedule 1 on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) Controlled Substances Act. It means that the drug has a high potential for abuse. The federal government doesn’t recognize it as a medical treatment in the United States either. That’s an entirely different story at the state level these days, though, isn’t it? However, employees don’t catch a break if they have state medical marijuana cards. If there is THC in their system, they are most likely losing their jobs.
Advocates are crying that’s not fair because marijuana metabolites remain in the body for varied lengths of time—always long after the point of impairment has passed. It all depends on how frequently the drug is used. For instance, someone who smokes several times a week can test positive for maybe a few weeks. Chronic users, though, can test positive for the drug for over two months after they stop using. The author of the piece wound up not getting tested due to his employer repeatedly scheduling the test for a couple of months.
He got lucky.
It’s the principle of the thing
The good doctor, who uses marijuana for pain relief due to fibromyalgia, stopped using upon learning his new job required a drug test. He refrained long enough to clear the THC out of his system and aced his test. However, he complained that it had been an unnecessary hiatus. In all actuality, he said that all it had done was keep him from his medication which he resumed after the fact.
That may have been so as far as he was concerned. According to a report released by Quest Diagnostics, however, marijuana positivity in post-accident drug testing cases increased by 9% from 2021 to 2022. And, over the ten years between 2012 and 2022, it increased by 204.2%.
Some employers choose to take a better-safe-than-sorry attitude in regard to marijuana and employee drug testing. When employees know they are going to be tested for the drug, it allows them to make an informed decision. If they have a problem because they know they’re going to test positive, they have the option of going to work somewhere else.
The employees who do choose to work in a drug-free environment are happy to be there. They’re more satisfied with their jobs and likely to stick around for the long haul. That’s because they know they work for a company that actually cares about their well-being. Moreover, the odds are stacked in their favor that they’ll be making it home to the kids. It’s a proven fact that there are far fewer accidents in a drug-free workplace.
As far as we’re concerned, those of you who consider employee drug testing to be “absurd and illogical” can put that in your pipe and smoke it.