As attitudes toward marijuana become more lenient and states authorize its use for medicinal — or even recreational — purposes, a long-simmering debate over the efficacy of workplace drug testing has found a new flash point.
Marijuana accounts for more failed workplace drug tests than any other substance, and the new laws have the potential of decreasing or eliminating employer testing for it.
Defenders of drug testing maintain that employees who use drugs, including marijuana, have been found to miss more work, cause more accidents, change jobs more frequently, and ultimately cost employers more money.
Many of those defenders happen to be part of the drug-test industry, which has mobilized to oppose the wave of legislation and litigation that it expects to rise from the conflict between workplace policies and changes in laws.
But voters in four states and Washington have voted to legalize recreational marijuana, and nearly half of the states allow it for medical treatment.
Earlier this month, Ohio supporters of legal marijuana use filed petitions to have a legalization question placed on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association has assembled pamphlets to assist businesses in defending their drug-testing programs.
It has also aggregated all U.S. state bills attempting to change marijuana’s legal status and is soliciting donations to fund its own research to help businesses understand the risk of abandoning drug-testing programs.
Association Executive Director Laura Shelton tells business clients to follow federal regulations, which list marijuana as an illegal substance with no acceptable medical use in treatment and a high potential for abuse. “Our advice is that if you want to maintain a safe and drug-free workplace, test for those drugs” outlawed under federal regulations, she said.
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