USA Mobile Drug Testing reveals how new marijuana legalization may affect employers in this special featured post! This is a hot topic with many employers today, especially when there are already certain risks and problems associated with controlled substances in the workplace.

How will the legalization of marijuana in some states affect employers and policies? 

With marijuana legalization sweeping the country, everyone seems to be wondering how it will affect them. Employers are justifiably concerned about the impact of marijuana use in the workplace, and employees are concerned about keeping or getting a job.

Career expert Rich DeMatteo recently interviewed USA Mobile Drug Testing’s CEO, David Bell about how marijuana legalization impacts employees, so we asked for David’s input on how it affects employers.

The legalization of marijuana has far-reaching effects on society, and these naturally extend into the workplace. The recent trend towards legal marijuana use is especially relevant to the way employers conduct drug testing. Companies must determine how to comply fully with changing state and federal laws while maintaining a safe and drug-free work environment. The transition is confusing and difficult for most employers and recruiters, and many don’t fully understand how the changes will affect their protocols.

Here are a few facts to help clear up drug testing basics for hiring professionals.

  • Most importantly, the legalizing of marijuana does not actually have to change drug testing policies. An employer still has the right to conduct testing for current and prospective employees. As always, employers can legally define and enforce limits on activities they deem to be unacceptable, even when these behaviors occur outside of working hours. Such activities may include arrest, incarceration, defamation through social media and both legal and illegal drug use.
  • Laws concerning the use of prescription or “medical” marijuana are more complex. Most states offer exemptions to employers who are not willing to tolerate any use of marijuana in the work environment or on company property. A few jurisdictions even have case law that supports an employer’s right to terminate workers with positive test results even where the drug is legal. It is imperative for employers and employees to understand both local legislation and company policy where medical marijuana is concerned.
  • If an employer suspects an employee of using drugs, he or she should not simply demand a single drug test on the spot. Drug testing must be conducted through an established program that has been thoroughly explained to employees. The program’s parameters should be strictly enforced. In cases of reasonable suspicion, employees can be drug tested, but employers should seek expert advice before proceeding.
  • Many employers conduct regular random drug testing using a computer-generated list. It may also be justified to test employees for drug use after a workplace accident occurs, before returning to duty after an extended absence or after a previous failed drug test. Policies vary among programs. In general, employers can conduct drug testing as they wish; they can decide what drugs to test for, who should be tested, what circumstances prompt a test and how often testing is conducted. However, once a written policy is in place, it must be followed and enforced fairly and equally. Unjustified testing or singling out suspected individuals is not acceptable.
  • Selective enforcement of punishment is also unacceptable. If a company’s drug testing policy states that a positive drug test results in immediate termination, the employers is not free to give one offender a second chance while terminating other employees for the same offense.
  • To get the best results from their drug testing programs, employers must present them in a positive light. Employees need to understand that drug testing is not based on distrust, stereotyping or character judgment. It is in place to help create a safer, more productive and more comfortable work environment for employees, supervisors, customers and vendors. Communicating the company drug policy effectively is the key to success; employers must invest the time to educate their current and future employees, and make sure they understand it completely.

For more information or a consultation with a certified compliance expert, you can visit USA Mobile Drug Testing’s website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter for up to date drug testing and HR information.

Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor is the Founder and CEO of HR Knows

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