Last updated: May 22, 2023
After the November election, five states had joined the ranks and legalized marijuana. As marijuana becomes widely accepted socially, employers wonder if they should drop it from the test.
Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, and New Jersey will have recreational marijuana laws going into effect next year. Additionally, Mississippi was one of the few remaining states that hadn’t legalized medical marijuana—until now. Voters roared their approval taking 75% of the vote.
Marijuana legalization continues to spread across the nation with each passing election. There’s no mistaking the voice of the people—they like pot. It’s considered a harmless drug by the majority of our society.
This leads some employers to wonder if they should stop testing for the drug.
Let’s list the pros and cons of continued marijuana drug testing.
Legalization doesn’t make it less dangerous
Whether or not marijuana is legalized in your state, it’s still a drug. Being under the influence of drugs while at work is a huge risk to the abuser and anyone that is working near them.
When motor skills and cognitive thinking skills are affected, the user is literally an accident waiting to happen. Several of marijuana’s short-term side effects present hidden dangers in the workplace or while driving.
- Clouded thinking—which affects problem-solving skills
- Loss of coordination
Working alongside someone who has recently used marijuana could be dangerous. Drugs in the workplace increase the risk of accidents.
Moreover, when you test for marijuana, you greatly reduce the odds that someone who uses the drug will apply for a job with your company in the first place!
Drug testing, for marijuana or any other drug, affords the employer some protection if there is an accident that involves a positive drug test result. It could put you in a position to deny workers compensation or unemployment benefits.
When you drug test your employees, it saves you money. Companies with drug-free programs in place not only report fewer accidents, but employees are absent less often and healthcare costs decrease as well.
Is the thought of a “con” just a con?
Is there a bad reason to keep pot on the drug test?
It’s true that some employers are quietly removing the marijuana panel from their drug tests. However, most aren’t because they’ve decided that until there’s a test for current impairment, identifying there is THC in the system is better than nothing.
Advocates for legalization disagree because marijuana metabolites remain in the system for days—weeks even for heavy users—past the length of time that the drug impairs the mind.
Hopefully, this will soon become a moot point because a marijuana breathalyzer is scheduled to hit the market—soon! Alcohol is a legal drug. However, we understand that it’s wrong to be under the influence on the job or on the road.
When we have access to a marijuana breathalyzer, we can treat marijuana legalization in the same way.
Stepping back for a good look
Marijuana is on the controlled substances list and remains illegal at the federal level even though state governments are allowing legalization.
Employers who focus on safety first establish a drug-free workplace. Regardless of the fact that marijuana is becoming socially accepted, it impairs the mind.
Don’t tolerate it—for safety’s sake.