Navigating the Changing Legal Landscape of Marijuana Laws

Life doesn’t come with too many guarantees.

But one of the few guarantees we do get? Change.

And one prime example of that change? Shifting opinions on marijuana use. What used to be a solid “no” in the past has flipped. According to a 2018 Pew Study, 62 percent say marijuana should be made legal. Back in 2000, only 30 percent favored that approach.

Today, a crowd of states permits medicinal marijuana use. And so far, ten states plus Washington, D.C. have given the go-ahead to recreational marijuana.

Changing statistics
So, what do these changing opinions mean in the workplace?

According to 2018 stats from Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index, more workers are testing positive for marijuana than ever before. Of the 9 million drug tests administered in 2018, 4.4 percent overall were positive for marijuana—the highest rate since 2004. (That’s still not close to 1988’s 13.6 percent overall rate.)

And while marijuana numbers grew, opioid numbers dropped. In 2018, those testing positive for opioids dipped by nearly 21 percent.

Changing approaches
So, how are employers tackling these issues?

Some are choosing to erase marijuana from most of their drug testing line-up. But other companies don’t have that option. Federal law still prohibits marijuana. That means workers in safety-sensitive jobs regulated by the federal government are still subject to federal marijuana laws. A compliant company drug-testing policy matters.

Employers must also consider medical marijuana policy. Ohio law, for example, offers employer-friendly carve-outs. Their state law says companies aren’t required to accommodate the use, possession, or distribution of medical marijuana. But other states offer distinct protections to employees when it comes to medical marijuana. Companies may want to explore reasonable accommodations, plus review statutes and current case law when forming policy.

Ready to put a solid drug screening policy in place? Contact us today. A professional partnership with ClearStar can help.

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