Seattle Times: “It’s Time For Employers To Rethink Marijuana, Drug-Testing Policies”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 17, 2012

    A majority of Americans are now demanding we reassess our cannabis policies. As I argue in The Seattle Times, this reassessment should also include amending employers’ policies that sanction workers’ off-the-job use of marijuana.

    It’s time for employers to rethink marijuana, drug-testing policies
    via The Seattle Times

    Voters have declared that it is time to rethink our marijuana policies. It’s also time to rethink the practice of drug testing for pot.

    The enactment of Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana use in Washington state, is an ideal opportunity for employers to re-examine their drug-testing policies regarding employees’ off the job cannabis use. Those who consume alcohol legally and responsibly while off the job do not suffer sanctions from their employers unless their work performance is adversely affected. Employers should treat those Washingtonians who consume cannabis legally while away from the workplace similarly.

    Programs that mandate the random testing of employees’ urine for alleged traces of drug residue are invasive and ineffective. They neither identify workers’ who may be impaired nor do they contribute to a safe work environment.

    … A positive test result for carboxy THC, marijuana’s primary metabolite, provides little if any substantive information to employers. That is because carboxy THC, unlike most other drug metabolites, is fat-soluble and may remain detectable in urine for days, weeks or, in some rare cases, months after a person has ceased using cannabis. Most other common drug metabolites are water soluble and therefore undetectable some 24 hours or so after ingestion.

    In short, a positive test result for cannabis does not provide any definitive information regarding an employee’s frequency of cannabis use, when he or she last consumed it, or whether he or she may have been under the influence of the substance at the time the drug screening was administered.

    … Writing in the journal Addiction, investigators at the University of Victoria in British Columbia reviewed 20 years of published literature pertaining to the efficacy of workplace drug testing, with a special emphasis on marijuana. “[I]t is not clear that heavy cannabis users represent a meaningful job safety risk unless using before work or on the job,” they concluded. “Urinalysis testing is not recommended as a diagnostic tool to identify employees who represent a job safety risk from cannabis use.”

    So why are Washington employers still engaging in it?

    Read the entire text of the op/ed here.

    46 Responses to “Seattle Times: “It’s Time For Employers To Rethink Marijuana, Drug-Testing Policies””

    1. AP says:

      I am curious if anyone out there has heard of a situation similar to mine. Recently I was dismissed from my position with my employer following, in my opinion, an extremely evasive search of my personal belongings.

      While at work there was a search of my lunch trailer using a k9 unit. My nap sack was identified by the k9 unit. I was brought into the trailer and witnessed my personal belongings being searched. Nothing was found. The security officer then “swabbed” all of my belongings, including the crevices within the seams of my bag. The swabs were then sprayed with a substance which turned bright purple when thc was present. Unfortunately a couple pin head sized specs of purple showed up and I was fired on the spot. When I offered to do a drug test i was denied.

      I have spent quite some time trying to find a similar case online and have had no luck. Maybe I am looking in the wrong places. Please share any info you may have.

    2. Cdnfarmhauler says:

      I am in the midst of trying to get a better job in the trucking industry. I quit smokin pot over a month ago and just got a positive result for pot!!! It seems that the industry would rather I drink more often and not smoke at all. The threshold I was tested to was 15 nanograms per millilitre, what a load of manure that is. I think it’s time to re-think this testing.

    3. Gary Carpenter says:

      why don’t they use a saliva test. It would show a more recent use so that they would know the person was not under the influence at work

    4. Caveman says:

      I’m from NH, I had to quit enjoying marijuana in my off hours 3 years ago to drive tractor trailer for a living (FMCSA regulations Suck)!!! I’m not holding my breath that our corrupt NH state politician hypocrites will pull there heads out of their granite state asses any time soon and actually get this legalization done once and for all. I’ve had that carrot hung under my nose too many times. And if they do finally enact common sense laws and end this insanity, I doubt it’ll be for the right reasons. I have no faith in any of our state or federal politicians to ever do the right thing, unless it’s somehow the right thing for themselves $$$. If it ever does happen, I’ll not thank any of them for finally doing it decades late and letting these cruel laws harm or ruin the lives of so many good Americans who just wanted to enjoy marijuana for themselves in the land of the free…

    5. grandma3d says:

      Hey Great News Everybody,
      Maryland! My sweet Maryland! This session Maryland is going for FULL! Legalization! Thanks Again NORML!
      I LOVE ALL you NORML People! Grandma Sending you Some Sugar!

      Paul, you are absolutely right, it is time to RE-think drug-testing! How can they do drug testing if cannabis stays in your system for 30 days?

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