As recreational and medical cannabis use becomes more accepted throughout the United States, there has been a significant amount of conversation about how employers will handle it-particularly, whether or not they will continue issuing drug tests to detect the plant. It’s a common practice, for all kinds of jobs and positions, to submit to a drug test-either as a term of initial employment, or as a term to maintain employment once hired. In states that have passed adult-use recreational cannabis legalization such as Colorado, many employers will still dismiss applicants if their drug test yields a positive result for the plant’s compounds.
These employers are likely missing out on some great applicants because of these policies. There are some fields, such as construction, wherein the risk of a fatal accident is substantially higher than that at other jobs. We can all agree that getting stoned and, say, operating a forklift, is not very smart or safe. But unless a person is visibly intoxicated, there is no way to be 100% certain that they are under the influence while on the clock. So, many companies just ban it outright, and will terminate the application process or employment if the employee tests positive for pot.
This fact has drawn a great deal of criticism. After all, cannabis stays in your system for quite a bit longer than other drugs, which can clear your body within days. A person testing positive doesn’t necessarily mean that they have smoked recently, or that they imbibe regularly. It certainly doesn’t mean that the person is going to light up at work. Many view this uncompromising position held by employers to be an overreach, an attempt to police private behavior that happens outside of the workplace.
The cost isn’t just a loss of employees, but it is also a financial cost to companies that enforce it. Not only must they shell out the money for the test itself, which can become incredibly expensive if the company is large and seeking to employ many, but the process of firing a pot-smoking employee and then training a replacement for them is a burden of both money and time.