USA Mobile Drug Testing Explains the Impact of Marijuana Legalization

by Rich DeMatteo on April 14, 2015 · 1 comment

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USA Mobile Drug Testing

One of the most (if not the most) confusing areas in the employment realm these days is about the legalization of marijuana and how it impacts drug testing. It’s my belief that if we could quiz 10 recruiters/employers on the topic, we just might get the right answers out of 1 of them. That’s a very strong might and it’s an incredibly critical area for hiring professionals to understand.

This is something that everyone is talking about, yet no one truly knows anything g about it. That’s why we’ve brought in an expert from USA Mobile Drug Testing to stop in for a Q/A and finally clear all of this up for us.

Please read the below interview with David Bell, CEO of USA Mobile Drug Testing and feel free to comment with any questions.


David Bell, CEO of USA Mobile Drug Testing

David Bell, CEO of USA Mobile Drug Testing

How does legalization change drug testing?

It doesn’t change it at all. Employers still retain the right to conduct drug testing for candidates and employees.

Employers have the legal right to choose what activities are unacceptable to them—even if they occur off the clock. That might be making hateful comments on social media, being arrested, or using drugs, even if those drugs are legal.

What about in cases of “medical” marijuana?

It gets more complex here, but most states have specific exemptions for employers who want to prohibit any use of marijuana in the workplace, on the employers’ property, and obviously, on-the-job intoxication. Some jurisdictions already have case law supporting an employer’s right to terminate employees who test positive for marijuana even where legal.

Employees should ensure they understand the local laws and their company policy , in order to protect their job.

Can employers just test employees they suspect of using drugs?

Sort of, but it’s not quite that simple. You can’t just demand that an employee take a drug test out of the blue. You need to have an established drug testing program in place that has been clearly explained to your employees. Then, you must follow that program precisely.

Employees suspected of using drugs can be tested based on reasonable suspicion, but this is another area where employers should seek expert guidance.

What other circumstances would justify a drug test?

A lot of companies use random testing in which a computer randomly generates a list of employees to be drug tested, but employees are also tested after accidents, before returning to duty, or regularly following a previous failed drug test. Each program is slightly different, so circumstances may vary from employer to employer.

What is off limits?

Employers are pretty free to drug test as they see fit, including choosing what drugs to test for, how often to test, who gets tested, and what prompts a test, however, they must follow their written policy, and they have to enforce it equally.

For example, an employer can’t decide to test Todd every month while just testing a random selection of employees every month. (Unless something in their policy, like a previous positive test, justifies it.)

They also can’t enforce punishment selectively, so if the policy states that employees who test positive will be terminated immediately, the employer can’t give Sean a second chance just because they like him, while terminating other employees.

Is there anything else employers and employees need to know?

Communication is key. Employers should take the time to provide employee education and thoroughly explain their drug testing policy, and employees should make sure they understand it completely.

Employees need to understand (and employers need to explain) that drug testing is not about a lack of trust, it’s about creating safer, more productive, and more enjoyable work environment for everyone.


Thanks again to David Bell for setting it straight. Phew, now I feel better!

You can follow USA Mobile Drug Testing on Facebook and Twitter for up to date drug testing and HR info.


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  1. […] expert Rich DeMatteo recently interviewed USA Mobile Drug Testing’s CEO, David Bell about how marijuana legalization impacts employees, so we asked for David’s input on how it […]