To Test or Not to Test for Marijuana - American Society of Employers - Susan Chance

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To Test or Not to Test for Marijuana

Now that marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in Michigan and 23 other states and all 50 states have legalized some form of use – from CBD oil only to medical marijuana to fully legalizing use – employers are wondering if they should continue to have applicants/employees submit to drug tests.

While it is understandable that employers are frustrated with losing so many candidates due to failed drug tests, it is important to keep safety and productivity in mind. Even though Michigan has legalized the recreational use of the substance, the state still allows employers to prohibit use in their facilities and on their property.

As with many drugs, marijuana negatively impacts judgement, reaction time, depth perception, and motor skills. It is no secret that there is a higher risk of workplace injuries or accidents when employees work under the influence.  However, studies have shown that there are lasting effects on a person’s attention span, ability to remember information, and the ability to learn. Just think of the time and money employers spend on training. That training can be negatively impacted for marijuana users, which can negatively impact the employer.

Employers are also working to navigate the waters of identifying if someone is under the influence. Various drugs and alcohol have different effects on people, and some medical symptoms, such as a diabetic with a blood sugar issue, can look like drug use. Managers, especially, should be trained in recognizing symptoms as well as documenting incidents.

Employers must have a clear policy in place and ensure that staff is well trained on the policy. A policy should include:

  • What is prohibited
  • Where use is prohibited
  • What actions will be taken to discipline employees who violate the policy
  • Testing requirements
  • How the employee will get to a drug testing facility
  • What will happen if an employee refuses to submit to a drug test

If an employee is suspected of being under the influence and must go to a drug testing facility, the employee should never drive themselves. Employers should have a plan in place for getting a taxi service, having a manager drive the employee, etc.

When it is necessary to have a conversation with an employee, the manager should have another manager or a human resources representative present, and make sure the conversation takes place in a private area such as an office or conference room.

As with any policy, employers should get input from their legal counsel before implementing the policy with their staff. And of course, document, document, document.




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