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Marijuana Testing for Employment: Understanding the New Landscape

Marijuana Testing for Employment: Understanding the New Landscape


The debate over marijuana testing for employment has come to the forefront as more states legalize marijuana and employers grapple with decisions about drug screening.

The practice originated back in the Vietnam War era when President Richard Nixon asked the military to institute urine tests for returning service members. In 1988, Congress passed the Drug-Free Workplace Act and Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which mandated that private-sector employers carry out some form of drug test.

Today, in a rapidly shifting landscape where 23 states have legalized recreational marijuana, attitudes toward cannabis use in the workplace are changing quickly. Some companies, particularly those looking for talent in industries like manufacturing, have done away with pre-employment drug screens altogether while others are removing THC from their tests or taking a more lenient stance when job candidates test positive.

Meanwhile, the growth of the marijuana industry has provided retailers with an opportunity to sell products that contain cannabis and items such as synthetic urine kits designed to help people avoid being caught in drug tests. Increasingly, companies are recognizing that testing for marijuana doesn't necessarily make sense if its use is legal or protected by law off work hours.

The upshot: as marijuana becomes more accepted across America, employers appear to be reevaluating their policies in order to remain competitive in today's labor market while also ensuring a safe working environment. Ultimately, the decision to include or exclude marijuana on pre-employment tests may depend on many factors, including the state in which a company operates and its own risk tolerance levels.

Regardless of where a company stands on drug testing for marijuana use, it's clear that attitudes towards cannabis have shifted dramatically in recent years and will likely continue to do so going forward. In this new landscape, employers must be mindful of their options when evaluating job applicants—and ensure that their testing protocols are up to date with current regulations.


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