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.