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Why Employers Should Regularly Test for Marijuana

Some people are pro-marijuana and others advocate against the legalization of it, but one thing everyone can agree on is that marijuana causes people to experience physiological changes while under the influence. Immediate effects include a rapid heartbeat and a lack of coordination, while the after effects can range from depression to panic attacks and anxiety. And because the main ingredient in marijuana – THC – stays in the body for at least a few weeks after exposure, then it is reasonable to assume that the effects of the marijuana do, too.

In spite of this, however, some employers do not test prospective or present employees for marijuana usage. Some believe that testing people for marijuana is illegal, which is simply not true, while others falsely believed that it is illegal to terminate the employment of someone who tests positive. As it stands, only about 70 percent of drug testing providers require their clients to drug-test their employees. So where are the other 30 percent?

There are three points that those who advocate for the legalization of marijuana tend to recite, and they are in comparison to alcohol. These points are that marijuana is "less dangerous," "less addictive," and "less damaging to a person's health" than alcohol is. However, there are counter-arguments to each of these points:

• Marijuana is second to alcohol in terms of substances being abused in this country.
• Marijuana is actually addictive.
• Just like alcohol, marijuana impairs a person's ability to drive or operate heavy machinery, and it harms the human brain just like alcohol does.

The cold hard truth is that legalizing marijuana leads to more people using marijuana, which leads to more people being impaired behind the wheel, while operating heavy machinery, and while on the job.

Some drug testing providers have eliminated marijuana from their testing programs entirely. The problem with this is that more marijuana users will get jobs than were able to in the past. These people may be employed in safety-sensitive positions that require clarity of mind so as to not injure oneself or others. The more accidents that happen, the more workers' compensation claims have to be filed, and the higher the employers' insurance premiums will rise.

There are two areas of law that every employer should keep in mind, and those are "respondent superior" and "negligent hiring." The respondent superior area of law holds employers responsible for their workers' actions. Here, the employer is charged with exercising control its employees so as to guarantee the safety of everyone in the workplace.

An example of this kind of situation would be if a salesman were to have too many drinks at lunch and then get into an accident on his way back to the office, where he ends up hurting or killing someone. This is a reflection on the company, and so the employer is responsible for the actions of his employees.

Negligent hiring is similar in that the employer is responsible, but the difference here is that the employer knew or should have known that an employee was unfit to fulfil his responsibilities but allowed him to work for the company anyway. Employers who need more information on these areas of law are encouraged to contact an attorney for more information so they can be fully compliant with the law.