More and more businesses across the country are dropping marijuana from their drug-testing requirements, finding themselves unable to hire employees if they continue to insist that new hires be pot-free.
As Crain’s Detroit Business reports, drug-testing has been part of the process for getting a job for many job seekers for decades. However, the Reagan Era of “Just Say No” attitudes is long over. Pot has become more mainstream as over half of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have now legalized pot in some form or another. And that means that many more job applicants are failing drug tests.
So many, in fact, that some businesses can’t get enough workers. In California, property management company FPI Management has dozens of job openings – openings they can’t fill because applicants keep testing positive for pot. Hotels in Las Vegas have hundreds of openings as well – and they’ve been turning away otherwise-qualified applicants because they fail the drug test.
Human Resources guy Michael Clarkson, who runs drug testing for St. Louis law firm Ogletree Deakins, says that many Missouri employers are telling him they’re having a hard time filling their workforce rolls – and pot isn’t even legal in Missouri.
“I’ve heard from lots of clients things like, ‘I can’t staff the third shift and test for marijuana.'”
The Hazy World Of Drug Testing And Conflicting Pot Laws
Although pot has been “legalized” in over half of the 50 states, it remains illegal at the federal level, as The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reminds us all. That means that it’s still technically illegal even though the states have legalized it. Since the Obama administration, the federal government has generally looked the other way, although what the Trump administration means for legal pot remains unclear (but more on that in a few paragraphs).
So Can I Be Fired, Or Refused A Job, For Failing A Drug Test For Pot If Pot’s Legal In My State?
Yes, no, maybe, maybe not, and it depends.
Long story short: Not all states where pot is legal protect workers from being fired or denied a job for failing a drug test for pot. Some do, some don’t. Some will protect you if you have a medical marijuana card, some won’t. But in general, just because pot is legal in your state, that doesn’t mean that you get a free pass when it comes to drug testing. Check with your employer – or if you’d rather not ask, check with an employment lawyer.
And of course, if you work for the feds, a federal contractor, or in a job regulated by the Department of Transportation – such as a truck driver or an airline pilot – all bets are off. You will be required to undergo pre-employment and other drug testing, and you will fail for pot, no questions asked, regardless of state laws.
What Does The Trump Administration Mean For The Future Of Legal Marijuana?
That, as the old saying goes, is the $64,000 question. Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is about as hostile to marijuana as any Washington politician has been in a decade. Trump himself, meanwhile, has been all but silent on the issue. He did, however, assure Republican Colorado Senator Cory Gardner that the feds wouldn’t target the Centennial State’s legal marijuana industry.
So for now anyway, the future of legal pot – and what it means for employers’ ability to hire workers – remains uncertain at best.