Yes, Your Company Can Still Monitor Marijuana Use

Pot may be legal in some form across most of the country, but that doesn’t mean your boss has to like it.


3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


As more states legalize recreational marijuana, many job applicants and employees are left scratching their heads as to what their rights are when it comes to being drug tested. The New York Times recently delved into this trending and potentially confusing space, interviewing a woman whose job offer at a medical-device manufactuer was rescinded after her drug-test results came back positive for marijuana use. This, despite having already been set up with a personalized work e-mail account and business cards.

Complicating this issue for human-resource departments is the nation’s red-hot economy, which has left many employers strapped for workers and in less of a position to force harsh anti-marijuana policies upon potential hires. Plus, numerous city and state legislatures across the country have weighed in on the topic. Nevada recently passed a bill banning employers from denying applicants on the basis of a positive marijuana test. New York City enacted a similar measure this spring. 

Related: Examples of Cannabis-Related Business Ideas

But there can still be numerous exceptions to such laws. Under NYC’s new provisions, applicants for the following positions can still be tested: construction workers, police officers, commercial drivers, teachers, teachers’s aides or day-care employees, as well as any job that requires medical supervision or could significantly impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public. Additionally, it’s important for employees everywhere to understand that even when a company does not require marijuana testing, it likely maintains a zero-tolerance policy for working while under the influence.

Employers are advised to hire a human-resources consultant to assist with working through and drafting a well-written drug-testing policy that clearly expresses their position. And employees that engage in marijuana use are urged to do thorough Google searches before applying to a position in order to understand that company’s policy on the issue. Glassdoor, The Vault, and Indeed each contain numerous employee reviews that speak to specific companies’s mandates. If a job-seeker is feeling especially brave, they can also consider consider asking an HR contact about it directly.

Related: How to Navigate Cannabis Marketing

Rapidly changing laws and societal opinions regarding marijuana use require employers to be nimble with developing consistent policies and procedures. Regardless of whether an employer requires potential or current employees to submit to testing, the key is transparency and consistency. An erratic approach to monitoring and enforcement of anti-substance-use rules in the workplace can lead to allegations of discrimination and potential lawsuits. Not to mention that companies must conduct human-resources training to fully educate their staff on rules concering marijuana use.

In short, whether you’re doing the hiring or seeking a job, learn before you get burned.

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