Does Marijuana Legalization Threaten Pre-Employment Drug Test

Recreational marijuana legalization continues to spread across the country as eighteen states have joined the ranks. But  Floridians who hoped that 2022 would be our year had better not hold their breaths. The deadline to submit ballot initiatives passed on February 1st. And, there weren’t enough signatures gathered to put the measure on this year’s ballot. In fact, only one of the three required ballot initiatives received enough signatures to warrant a judicial review.

The outcome wasn’t good, however, because the Florida Supreme Court ruled that language used within said ballot initiative was misleading to voters. They blocked the proposed measure with a 5-2 vote and it all boiled down to the word “permits.”

The version submitted reads as follows:

“Permits adults 21 years or older to possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason. Permits Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to sell, distribute, or dispense marijuana and marijuana accessories if clearly labeled and in childproof packaging to adults. Prohibits advertising or marketing targeted to persons under 21. Prohibits marijuana use in defined public places. Maintains limitations on marijuana use in defined circumstances.”

The controversy

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that by not clarifying that the word “permits” only refers to use “under Florida state law,” it could mislead citizens and visitors to the state because a state constitutional amendment “cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law.”

In light of the decision handed down, it’s not likely that there’s any chance that the measure will make it onto the 2022 ballot this November. However, there’s still a chance that “Make It Legal” could submit another draft and start from square one again. A big push could possibly result in the proposed initiative being included in time for the November 2022 election.

If not, advocates are already turning their sights to the 2024 ballot and forming a new game plan.

You know what they say about squeaky wheels

The legalization of medical marijuana in Florida spiked a rise in positive marijuana drug tests. In short, if someone applying for a job pops positive for marijuana, the employer can refuse to hire them. Moreover, if a current employee tests positive for pot, they’re going to lose their job even if they are using it for medicinal purposes.

One way that advocates feel they are making their case for legalization stronger is to push for a ban on allowing marijuana panels to be included on pre-employment drug tests. Some government officials are jumping on the bandwagon with them. Both New York City and the state of Nevada issued a ban on pre-employment testing for pot. They left carve-outs in place to cover employers of the safety-sensitive workforce though because it allows them to remain in compliance with the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Currently, employers have every right to respond to a positive drug test in these ways because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

That’s not stopping advocates from complaining that it infringes on someone’s right to privacy. They tout that it’s unfair for people to be penalized for legally using marijuana or marijuana based products in the privacy of their home. An employer’s response to that is likely going to be that legal or not, using marijuana causes impaired judgement and that’s a safety hazard.

They’ve got a valid point.

Standing up for safety’s sake

Generally considered to be a “harmless” drug, marijuana smokers have gained the reputation of being laid back, easy going, and possibly hungry if a case of the “munchies” sets in. But, is there such a thing as “harmless” when someone’s mind is impaired?

Using drugs affects a person’s physical and mental abilities. Therefore, someone who smokes a joint or munches on a couple of treated brownies right before work is putting themselves at higher risk of being involved in an accident. Even worse, others working in their vicinity are at higher risk too. Employers who want to create the safest work environment possible understand the importance of weeding out drug use on the job.

If you’re an employer whose drug-free policies include testing for marijuana, you shouldn’t stop doing so just because advocates—and possibly some employees—want you to quit. Advocates and pot smoking employees aren’t the ones who would have to live with themselves if an accident did occur because a stoned employee absentmindedly stumbled on their way to the coffee pot in the breakroom causing it to topple from the counter, and, then, spilling all over the two sitting at the table.

You are.

Making the decision to stand firm on your drug-free protocol whether or not marijuana is completely legalized in Florida is making a strong statement. If you have employees that smoke pot or use cbd products for medicinal purposes, they know where you stand. If they don’t like it, they’re free to seek employment elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the employees who don’t use marijuana are going to feel more secure in the fact that you are an employer who truly cares about them. As a matter of fact, you’re likely going to see an increase in productivity, a more dynamic work culture, and an increased sense of employee satisfaction. That’s because when your employees realize that you are willing to go the extra mile for them, they’re going to want to climb a mountain for you. That’s nothing but a win-win any way you look at it.


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