3 States Dropping Cannabis From Pre-Employment Drug Tests

Multiple states are changing their rules on how businesses treat cannabis-using employees when the practice takes place outside of working hours.
Pre-Employment Drug Tests

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Multiple states are exhibiting changes or potential changes in the ways in which cannabis use by employees is handled by businesses when the practice takes place outside of working hours.

1. Colorado

Colorado Pre-Employment Drug Tests

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The first state in which cannabis use may be precluded from initial testing is Colorado. The Centennial State – which famously legalized the recreational use of cannabis in 2012 – has exhibited a marked decline in recent years in the number of businesses willing to test incoming employees for the substance.

According to a survey conducted two months ago by the Mountain States Employers, seven percent of employers have elected not to test for cannabis among incoming members of staff in the past two years. Three percent of businesses removed it from all forms of drug testing in general.

Curtis Graves – who represents the Mountain States Employers Council – believes that the decreased testing may be attributed to more Coloradans having a job.

[Businesses] may prefer a zero-tolerance approach. From a business perspective, they just can’t afford to be as choosy now.

Unemployment statistics may bear this out: The state ranks 41st in unemployment, well below the national average.

2. California

Colorado is not the only state that may be seeing a change in its pre-employment cannabis testing – California also wants to get in on the action.

The Golden State – which legalized the use of recreational cannabis via a popular 2016 ballot initiative – is reportedly seeing a decline in the numbers of businesses that engage in the practice.

The placement agency Select Staffing has noticed that just a fifth of their clients requires new employees to submit to cannabis testing. The company says the low number is due to so many businesses being fearful that they may be missing out on well-suited employees.

According to Select Staffing’s Kylie Kelleher, cannabis use need not preclude the hiring of otherwise qualified – and quality – candidates.

They can need [cannabis] for medical purposes and still be a great employee… But they just might be in a position where they have to take it.

California law currently still allows for businesses to fire employees for their cannabis use.

3. Oregon

Another state that may soon see a decline in pre-employment cannabis testing is Oregon, which passed an initiative in 2014 that legalized the use of the substance for recreational use.

A bill recently introduced in the state Senate would bar any state business from firing an employee who uses cannabis in their off-duty hours.

The proposal was put forward by a bipartisan group of lawmakers – dubbed the Joint Interim Marijuana Legalization Committee – which has pointed out that extracurricular cannabis use may still be used for grounds for dismissal in many businesses despite the fact that the substance is legal.

The measure – known as Senate Bill 301 – would only allow employers to force employees to refrain from using the substance if such usage inhibited the performance of the task to be done or if the reason is deemed to be legitimate.

August 14, 2019
Written by Stephen Calabria
August 14, 2019
Written by Stephen Calabria
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