NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director 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states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML.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.

    54 responses to “NORML Forms Multi-State Workplace Drug Testing Coalition”

    1. Matt says:

      About time and long overdue! I have much more to say on this soon!

    2. Lisa Powers says:

      I am open to a discussion with you regarding urine drug screening. I am a master degreed professional who just went through a preemployment drug screen today.
      I was treated like a criminal.
      I was appalled.
      I am an advocate for cannabis patients and a certified cannabis caregiver.
      I live in NH.
      If I can be of any assistance please contact me anytime.
      Thank you and good luck.

    3. Rachel Sue Nichol says:

      Yes! Thank you NORML. I must help in anyway that I can when Florida gets looped in to this coalition! Please.

    4. Mark Mitcham says:

      For a free American citizen, work is by agreement only. Jobs ain’t military operations, and military operations ain’t jobs. Employers have no authority over you that you don’t give them; and if you didn’t agree to it, then it’s not part of your job.

      The problem with drug testing is economic coercion. That’s the whole point of it: otherwise we would all just tell them to go fuck themselves. But we can’t, because we depend on our jobs to survive. It’s a gun to the head, exactly as it is intended to be.

      Employers deliberately use economic coercion, and it’s for political reasons, not for the “reefer madness” phony justifications listed in the company handbook.

      But with respect to the vast majority of jobs, one’s marijuana use is irrelevant, whether on-the-clock, or off-the-clock. In all these cases, drug testing is not only discriminatory, but it is also physically and psychologically invasive.

      I’m not sure what legal principle is violated when a person is coerced, via physical or economic force, into submitting to a physical invasion of their body; but I call it rape.

      I’m not making light of the crime of rape when I say that, although I’ve never been raped, I have rape-survivor psychological issues. Why? Drug testing. But this isn’t about me; I mention it only to highlight the fact that drug testing is not normal, and it has nothing to do with one’s job qualifications.

      Thank you, good people at NORML, for saying what I know, but which we all need to hear: workplace drug testing is discriminatory, traumatic and invasive; it serves a larger political purpose which is corrupt and violent; and it needs to stop.

      • Demonhypr says:

        Thank you for saying this! It is economic coercion, and it serves one purpose: to subcontract /constitutional rights violation to the private sector. And it is absolutely rape, as it is a forcible invasion of another persons body, and if it is a choice then I say let every armed robber or rapist out of prison now, since apparently “do as you’re told or die” is now considered a free choice.

        I don’t think you’re crazy because I have the same issues. I loathe myself for having submitted, I feel dirty, I feel violated, I feel (sometimes physically) as if my boss has a finger between my legs at all times, I don’t feel as though my body belongs to me, and I feel as if I am being treated like a criminal when I am the victim. When I complain or tell people how I feel, I am either laughed at or glared at with absolute hatred, and in either case I am told to shut up.

        I got “randomly” selected a couple years ago, and I developed a nasty case of deep fissured hand eczema that hasn’t let up and ius only kept at a bearable level due to some very expensive lotions that I have to saturate my hands with frequently.

        I don’t use any MJ (though I could probably use it) or any other drugs, but I have started drinking considerably more than I did before. From having a drink maybe four or five times a year to having one or more drinks multiple times a week. Ironically, their misinformed effort to curb substance abuse in employees may well cause a substance abuse problem in me.

        I have a site, though I need to update a few links. I’ve been collecting URLs of anti-drug testing articles, studies, etc, plus writing some of my own thoughts. You and others might find some ammo there.


    5. Julian says:

      Excellent! What a milestone for NORML. Thats what I love about our chapters; we dont sit around and wait for magic leadership; we listen to consumers and members and we lobby to change local law, against all odds.
      In all my years of being active with Texas NORML I never would have thought my Republican state Representative would be cosponsoring decriminalization because “perfectly capable Texans are being prevented from employment for a relatively safe substance they may have only tried once.”
      I was lobbying Rep. Isaac’s office simply to expand the ineffective Compassionate Use Act and he hit me out of left field. “My Republican State Congressman? For Decrim?”
      Of course. The message is simple;
      “Marijuana is safer than alcohol.”
      “Decriminalizing keeps people employed.”
      “Medical marijuana creates jobs and saves lives.”

      Also helps both the NHSA and AAA confirm we cannot determine when someone has been impaired by finding traces of cannabis in blood, breath or urine. Law enforcement is still scrambling with those facts.

      Now of course every business has every right to take kickbacks from the empire of piss some politicians employ (or actually own the facilities). We also retain the right not to work there or consume their products.

      So here’s a thought:

      The NORML Workplace Drugtesting Scorecard:

      A list of businesses that get graded A through F on their compliance with NORML standards for workplace drugtesting. C’mon! We’ll crowdfund until we get sponsors then make commercials until the piss testing industry goes down the drain like Ivanka from Nordstrum’s!

      • Demonhype says:

        You stole my idea! :). I wanted to crowd source a graded list of companies on enddrugtesting.blogspot.com based on three categories: all kinds of testing, with a cause tinkly testing, and no testing, with no testing being the highest grade. I thought that a boycott could start changing their tunes,since most drug testing employers will admit off the record that they are really only testing for public relations cred and taxpayer funded kickbacks.

        I just don’t have the audience, time, funds, or knowhow, plus the momentum is only now starting up.

        • Julian says:

          “Stole” implies I read your blogspot… lets just agree we have mutually enlightened ideas?
          As a student of Advanced Placement government throughout three high schools… (or schools high…) I learned through deductive reasoning and some very informed government teachers that;

          We as American consumers give zero credit to the power we maintain over our government as consumers… In other words, sale$ taxation create$ repre$entaion…

          • Demonhype says:

            Hey, I’m not accusing you of really stealing my idea! It was a joke! I’m just thrilled that someone else is thinking the same way! Probably should have said “great minds think alike”? 🙂

        • Mike Hedin says:

          That’s a really good idea. I expecially like organizing boycotts against some of the worst companies. It’s a big undertaking but if I can help let me know.

          • Demonhype says:

            Sorry I took this long. Keep an eye on my anti drug testing blog (enddrugtesting.blogspot.com), if I start anything I’ll likely announce it there!

            Which I just may, since I have a great deal of free time suddenly!

    6. Julian says:

      Here, I’ll start;

      Here are careers and entire industries with an “A”:


      Notice the American innovation in these fields?
      IT consultant? Journalist? (Well that explains NPR… Waitaminute, accountants dont get drugtested?! Ok, we’ll let THAT slide…)

      Now let’s look at Companies with an “A”:


      Google? Wholefoods? NPR? “A’s!”

      (Except for Redbull… I actually think they SHOULD be drugtesting… just for Redbull! And Twitter should be drugtesting but only for people addicted to Twitter, beginning with the President).

      Now let’s look at careers and companies that DO drugtest:


      Ok, lets narrow it down.
      What kind of jobs routinely test?


      Narrowing it down to Texas, this link shows
      “Associated Pipeline Contract” at the top of the list. Yay, we get to poison the earth to gain our daily sense of affirmation and accomplishment! …and try every drug except marijuana. (THAT explains a lot).

      Other piss-testing careers include “The Mudlogging Company” , “Dons & Bens Liquor” and “All Offshore Drilling Contracts.”

      Notice the patent LACK of innovation? (Well, except for the tech used on offshore drilling… but they give those guys a month off and they get FUC*ED up. Of course renewable fuels ARE more innovative…). The irony is I think we’d have to get stoned just to TAKE one of these jobs:
      “You’re workin till nine Jules!” (Me, while mopping someone’s vomit off the liquor store floor…) “Agaaain? Can I at least get STONED?” (Boss), “No, I told you, you’ll fail your piss test.” (Me) “Well screw THIS job.” (Drops the mop) “Ill just go be self employed.”

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Janitor dude doesn’t need to start a business, and go through all that trouble — just drop the mop and go get a different janitorial job!

        There are a lot of toilets in America. That’s lots and lots of janitorial work in America that a lot of people are too proud and sissified to do themselves. We Americans just got to have “class” so we can feel superior about ourselves. But when you’re working for less than, say, $15/hr, you’re “lower class.” You’re at the bottom, fool. You ain’t “moving on up” and you know it. So who you going to look down on now?

        Answer: fucking janitors. But don’t worry about judgemental assholes; that’s their problem, so just ignore them. Do the job, do it well. End of the day, a long hot shower, and your life is your own again.

        Be high. Be very high.

        • Julian says:

          Too low under the radar to get caught getting high? I guess janitors are like IT jobs; if we start piss testing for marijuana there wont be anyone left to do the job! Stay high, my friend. Its an honor to serve.

    7. Jim T says:

      This really hits home. I have had a medical marijuana card in 2 states for about 10 years. I’m a 35 year old pharmacist that was promoted to pharmacy manager for a big name national pharmacy. Last year a random came through our store and of course I failed. I had to take a leave of absence for 4 months while a private company handled my case to “get me back to work.” This was in lieu of getting fired so luckily I kept my job. However I had to go through 4 weeks of an intensive outpatient program, and 4 aa/an meetings a week for the 4 weeks. Now that I’m back to work I have to call a phone number everyday for an entire year for the first of a five year monitoring program to see if I have to go drug test. I also have to go to 2 aa/na meetings a week for the first year. The next 4 years i won’t have to make the call, but they will randomly call me at any point to go take a drug test. This is considered part of a last chance program for pharmacists and from what I understand 5 years is the norm for a pharmacist to be on the hook.

      All of this because I chose to use medical marijuana for an esophagus condition I have that hinders my ability to eat enough through the day. I was never under the influence at work but I would use at night or on weekends to relax and eat. I also hardly drink as I prefer marijuana. This needs to change and it is long overdue.

      • Ronnie Stokes says:

        So you chose to go to work with a company and accepted their money and terms of employment and then are unhappy that when YOU INTENTIONALLY and Knowingly violated those policies? Is that correct? You can Just start your own business and hire whoever you want with whatever policies you choose and then this would not even be an issue. But if you want someone else to take all the risk and invest in a business then you should honor your agreement and their policies!

        • Demonhype says:

          Hey, did you miss the part where he needed it to freaking eat? That’s not “choosing” to break a policy, as if he just wanted to have funsy high times, it was a medical necessity.

          And starting a business is not something just anyone has the capital to do, same with “be self-employed”. We have a system currently that makes survival impossible for the vast majority of people without being employed by someone else, and these companies take advantage of that, enacting all sortrs of invasive and often legally dubious policies, pretending everyone has a free choice to refuse.

          And pharmacist is not the kind of job you can just leave to find another. That is a higher education job, which means he would have to waste a very expensive education he may still be paying for to get what would most likely be a McJob, all for having the audacity to oppose what is an entirely oppressive and unacceptable, not to mention unjust, company policy.

          And how wrong,immoral, oppressive, controlling, or invasive does an employers policies have to be before you would oppose it? Why can’t the manager strip search employees on the way out the door, or mandate blow jobs on demand? Why not brand or tattoo the employees to test their devotion to your business? Or we could reintroduce corporal punishment, and let managers flog and cane employees for any reason they like, hell, its a “free choice” of what company holds the whip, so it’s surely not oppressive! I guess those new policies that require employees to give all their privateemasil and social media passwords to the company for monitoring are a-ok too?

    8. Galileo Galilei says:

      The drug test industry perpetuates a fraud on the government and us all. I saw on the ‘Myth Busters’ that poppy seeds really can result in a false positive for heroin.

      • Demonhype says:

        Yet the drug testing companies lie like rugs and advertise accuracy rates ranging from 98%-100%. They should be prosecuted for false advertising, but there’s no oversight to that industry, and no real enforcement of what few regulations exist.

        And so many stupid people believe that since drug testing has been around for forty years,all the kinks and problems are surely worked out and cross-reactive false positives are just a !myth perpetuated by paranoid stoners rather than the documented fact it is. Because there is so much pressure to improve in an industry that has few regulations,zero oversight,zero enforcement, and a host of laws requiring many businesses to purchase their services.

    9. Robin says:

      What does performance testing look like?

      [Paul Armentano responds: These tests assess a subject’s performance compared to their baseline level.]

    10. Matthew says:

      Falsehood quoted in above article:
      “It is important they know testing for marijuana is not mandatory,…”

      It is strictly mandated by Federal law, for all employees related to the transportation industry, for instance. This is the biggest employing industry in America, and the FMCSR mandates that even people who work in office cubicles and never leave their desk, be randomly tested for cannabinoid metabolites.

      Positive results on random tests strictly require immediate job termination, followed by ‘self admission to marihuana addiction treatment for six consecutive months’ before rehirability.

      This is strictly mandated by Congress, through the FMSCA.

      • Judd golden says:

        Testing is not mandated by the Federal Drug Free Workplace Act, is what we meant. Federal preemption and marijuana prohibition on the federal level has resulted in laws like the one you reference, which of course will only change if Congress acts. We expect we will have more success working on the state and local level and and with private employers to make changes to protect employee rights. Thanks for your comment!

      • Ronnie Stokes says:

        The statement above is incorrect. there is no mandated testing for someone sitting in an office. In fact random testing of non safety sensitive personnel is NOT allowed. Meaing there are specific guidelines of who must be tested and who MUST NOT be tested under federal regulations. Please express your concerns but be accurate in your claims.