NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator February 14, 2017

    mj_salesThe fact that 190 million Americans now live in states where marijuana has been legalized to some degree is raising a number of questions and issues about how to integrate the American workforce and marijuana consumers rights in regards to drug testing. With medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana for adult use in 8 states and Washington DC, millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the workforce due to a positive drug test — even where the use does not affect an individual’s job performance or has taken place days or weeks prior to the test.

    NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense. As a result, a growing coalition of NORML Chapters in California, Oregon, Colorado and Washington have come together to advocate for necessary legislative and workplace reforms to protect responsible marijuana consumers.

    NORML’s Workplace Drug Testing Coalition’s efforts will focus on these four areas:

    1. Reform workplace drug testing policies
    2. Expand employment opportunities for marijuana consumers
    3. Clarify the difference between detection technology and performance testing
    4. Highlight off-duty state law legal protections for employees

    “Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML. “That is why many NORML chapters active in legal states are now shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from these sort of antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular the use of random suspicionless urine testing.”

    Employer testing of applicants or employees for trace metabolites (inert waste-products) of past use of a legal substance makes no sense in the 21st century.  This activity is particularly discriminatory in the case of marijuana where such metabolites may be detectable for weeks or even months after the consumer has ceased use.

    With the 2017 Legislative Session underway, this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Legislation has already been introduced in Oregon and Washington, and is gaining traction in those states.

    “Random suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” said attorney Judd Golden of Boulder, Colorado, a long-time NORML activist and Coalition spokesperson. The modern workforce includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats of Colorado, a paraplegic medical marijuana patient who never was impaired on the job and had an unblemished work record. Brandon was fired from a Fortune 500 company after a random drug test, and lost his case in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. The Court unfortunately found Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law that protects employees for legal activities on their own time didn’t apply to marijuana use.

    California NORML is also expecting legislation to be introduced this session to address this issue. Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML said, “One of the most frequently asked questions we have been getting since Prop. 64 passed legalizing adult marijuana use in California last November is, ‘Am I now protected against drug testing on my job?’ Sadly in our state, not even medical marijuana patients are protected against job discrimination, and it’s a priority of Cal NORML to change that. We are hoping to get a bill introduced at the state level and are working with legislators, unions, and other reform groups to make that happen.”

    NORML Chapters across the country are advocating on behalf of the rights of responsible marijuana consumers against discrimination in the workplace. “Our coalition was formed with the intention of not only educating legislators, but also with businesses in mind.  It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory, and that employers have testing options,” said Jordan Person, executive director for Denver NORML. The Denver chapter is currently working with companies that offer performance impairment testing of workers suspected of on-the-job impairment or use rather than unreliable bodily fluid testing to help provide options for employers.

    thumbs_upFor decades drug testing companies and others have pushed their agenda through a campaign of misinformation. Until now there has never been an organized effort to challenge the profit- driven ideology of those who seek to benefit from intrusive drug screening. Mounting evidence continues to prove there is no logical reason why adult marijuana consumers should be treated with any less respect, restricted more severely, and denied the same privileges we extend to responsible adults who enjoy a casual cocktail after a long day at the office.

    For legal questions, please contact Coalition spokesperson Judd Golden at juddgolden@outlook.com. For other marijuana related questions or an interview, please contact Kevin Mahmalji at kevinm@norml.org.

    24 Responses to “NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition”

    1. TheOracle says:

      They’ll stop giving the piss tests when failing it is no longer a reason to fire someone.

      Did Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump talk about Canada legalizing cannabis for adult recreational? What did they talk about? All this other stuff with Trump and the Russians has been elbowing out other nieuws. Christie is a horrible choice for drug czar. No way! California has to add its pull to this tug of war before this new administration has time to do anything detrimental to the legal cannabis momentum.

    2. mexweed says:

      The forcibly furthered FEAR of “drug” testing might be a driving force behind a percentage of consumer purchases of… real drugs, like $UGARPOP in the case of teenagers. Or alcohol– as @Jim T says, “I also hardly drink as I prefer marijuana.” Uh oh.

    3. Julian says:


      The Houston Chronicle reports that District Attorney Kim Ogg is set to decriminalize marijuana in the city of Houston beginning March 1st with NO charges whatsoever for up to 4oz. of marijuana!


      Segue into this blog: people will be required to take a four hour drug class.

      Its better than Harris County Jail!

      This is while HB81 is being debated on the House floor to decriminalize marijuana in the state of Texas.

      More than 12,000 people are arrested for minor marijuana possession in Harris County each year. The new rules are set to save the county $10million a year in law enforcement and prosecutorial charges alone.

    4. Dudleed says:

      I agree that this is the most important aspect to tackle. I whole-heartedly believe that cannabis should be handled exactly like whiskey. One interim compromise position that could be promoted is the use of saliva testing vs. urine testing. Feasible positives are 2 days instead of 5+. Let’s stop the witch-hunt. I’ve heard all too often in my life, “This guy or gal was an A student. It’s too bad they got caught using pot.” Or “That person was a top notch employee. How could they have been a pot user?” Time to break the paradigm and assert that we are not only not inferior citizens, but often superior in many ways.

    5. Dudleed says:

      I would like to add to my previous blog that the reason this aspect is so important is that without workplace testing recreational use is almost completely unenforceable. Let’s be pragmatic. Don’t stick to principle to the detriment of practical gains.

    6. Matty says:

      Cant wait to see what happens ct needs to do something apout it also. If I have a medical card given to me by a Dr. It should be seen as a prescription and treated like you when tested

    7. Anonymous says:

      Fantastic! I am so thrilled NORML is addressing this glaringly unfair discrimination committed daily by employers against workers who use a legally state sanctioned substance in their off-work hours. I find it incredibly offensive that an employer May force me to provide intimate medical access to my body as a condition of employment. Thank you!

    8. B Neptune says:

      I have worked with a number of people who used marijuana. Sometimes as their boss, in general all were good employees. Some were excellent, some were lousy. People are people smoker or not. Passing a drug test doesn’t make you a good employee. Testing positive doesn’t make you a bad employee. As cannabis becomes legal employers will find the employee pool is more smoker than nonsmoker. Employers will find it better to judge an employees performance rather than his actions while off work. Just as water seeks its own level , employers and employees will work out. Many employers will be smokers. It is the insurance industry that needs to wake up and listen to the people. Currently some insurance companies will not insure you if you drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or are over weight. Cannabis is far safer than both.
      Thank you for reading this and have a good day.

    9. Mark Mitcham says:

      Bottom line: when “The Man” tells you, “You must choose between your job and marijuana,” always choose marijuana. Why? The answer is obvious: jobs suck; marijuana is great. C’mon, honestly: It’s not even close.

      So, the real question becomes: can you be “bought off” by The Man? And if not: Can you live with having your allowance cut off? Being grounded? Lectured? Punished? Homeless?

      Will going through that open your eyes to the corruption of the system?

    10. Leroy says:

      ATTN: All cannabis proponents, keep your support away from your ties to liberalism, PLEASE. You do a “YUGE” disservice to this cause by associating cannabis with your anti-Trump agenda and your constant accusations of racism, homophobia, Islamaphobia, etcetera. The rest of us looking into your bubble from the outside are pretty fucking sick of that shit. Please shut the FRONT DOOR and stick to the message. Keep that other BS out of it or progress with cannabis WILL halt, guaranteed. This is NOT a partisan issue.

      It’s understood dems/liberals are probably the biggest cannabis activists, but there are plenty of republicans and independents (like me) that also champion the cause. This is a human rights issue. Stop alienating so many people or you will be ignored for behavioral reasons instead of the reefer madness nonsense.

      This message is aimed at the top, down. NORML leadership has frequently been guilty of (near childish) political rhetoric that has no business being in the same discussion as cannabis. Stay on track.

      That said, the many steps forward with legalization is nothing short of AMAZING, and I’m thankful for the successful efforts by NORML and its supporters. Thanks.

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        No, Sir. I will not comply with your demands.

        The marijuana legalization movement must never become a vehicle for the fascist, white supremacist agenda of Trump and his KKK-loving crowd.

        The marijuana legalization movement needs Trump supporters about as much as a submarine needs a screen door.

        Trump supporters don’t give a fuck about truth or justice — they consider both to be enemies. Trump supporters care about nothing except for promoting their own bigotry. As long as Trump is rounding up brown people, nothing else matters to these people. NOTHING.

        The marijuana legalization movement is principled, and it is diverse. We need every single good person of every race, creed, color, gender, and orientation, in order to win this thing. Legalization is an issue that crosses all social lines, but it does not cross all political lines as you suggest — active Trump supporters need not apply.

        The movement must be united; but Trump’s goal is to divide us according to race. We cannot allow that. That’s why we have no room for bigots. The marijuana legalization movement needs to shun these folks like a disease.

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