Drug Testing and Marijuana Use at Work

Employers across the country continue to do drug testing which tests for the five most commonly abused categories of drugs including marijuana. If an employee tests positive on a drug test, it is up to the employer to deal with the problem. The employer has the right to immediately fire the employee or to warn the employee that breaking the company’s drug free policy will not be tolerated. In this case, the employee may be tested again at a later date. It is a second chance for the worker to provide a urine sample free from the evidence of marijuana use. In states where medical marijuana is legal, employees are usually treated the same as a worker who is using marijuana illegally. Even with a medical recommendation from a physician, employees can be fired.

An employee’s work will surely suffer if the worker is high and has used marijuana at work. Work and drug use just do not go together. Work takes mental and physical effort, and these are hampered by drugs of any sort. If a worker is using Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, or other prescribed drugs that cause extreme drowsiness, an employer will not typically allow this employee to remain at the work site. Especially those in a safety sensitive work environment. The employee will be sent home and told to return with a doctor’s excuse. Why should an employer have to accept an employee who is high at work from marijuana when they would never let an employee remain on the job who was incapacitated from legal drugs to treat a condition?

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In states where marijuana is legal, such as Colorado or California, its use must be done in private. A person smoking marijuana in public can be arrested and face jail time whether or not they have a marijuana card that documents that they are a medical marijuana user. Does this give an employee the right to go into the restroom or out to the parking lot to smoke marijuana for medical reasons?

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Drug testing can identify workers who are using marijuana, and employers have the right to know this. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal and in states that have legal medical use, an employer’s drug free workplace policy takes precedence over a worker’s medical marijuana card. Any employee, even those with medical reasons, can be fired immediately if the drug shows up in a random drug test.

Random drug test are the best way for businesses to keep their company drug free. Marijuana will show up in a drug test for seven to 30 days after its use, depending on how heavy of a user the employee is. Random testing can eliminate marijuana use on the job, with proper use of pre employment drug testing and random drug screens. There is no reliable way to wash marijuana use from the body in a short period of time, despite the great variety of products on the market that claim to do this.

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by Jerry Cantrell