Marijuana and the workplace: how does it affect employees?

With the laws of legalizing marijuana, the effects aren’t necessarily welcoming weed to feel more welcome in the workplace. For now, many employees are sticking to their health and safety requirements and conducting drug tests and personal conduct policies.

In states where recreational cannabis is allowed, other states are still keeping a close eye on what is legal and the political environment that involves marijuana. Back in November of 2015, voters in the state of California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voted to approve of the use of marijuana. To follow, states including Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska had also legalized the use of medical marijuana.

How did employers allow testing their employees for marijuana use?

To make it clear:, employees cannot come to work under the use of marijuana. You can still be tested for drugs and still be fired if you fail a drug test, even if you are not under the influence at work.

All the states that have legalized recreational marijuana have exceptions for use in the workplace. For example: in Massachusetts, the law describes the language of the authority of employers to aim to enact and enforce policies against the use of marijuana by employees.

This means that while you may be able to use marijuana at home, it does not give you the privilege to have it in the workplace.

Workplace Safety and Marijuana Use

Strong Legal Marijuana advocates never mentioned their intent to compromise security in the workplace. This makes it the primary cause of drug testing for employees. The objective is not to come to work impaired by any drugs, but to be allowed to practice safely at home.

According to a survey in 2013, employees found that 78% of employers conduct their drug tests randomly, after accidents, as a condition of hiring employment, and for combined reasons. Another study by Quest Diagnostics involved over 11 million laboratory based drug tests back in 2015. The percentage that came back positive was at an all-time high as nearly half of positive tests showed the results of marijuana.

The federal government requires that workers in transportation must be conducted monthly.

Can employees get fired when not high but still shows in the results?

Experts say that THC, the psychoactive chemical contained in cannabis can last as long as a day days or weeks. Many people believe that employers should consider the changing laws as it is equivalent to firing someone who drinks alcohol on a Friday night and returned to work on Monday.

Currently, some efforts are undergoing to develop an accurate method. To measure the actual marijuana impairment, such tests must be acknowledged. These tests will not only be useful for employers but also help police determine what constitutes allowing drivers under the influence in states where recreational marijuana is legalized.

Actions of Companies

First, companies must review their current policies and ensure that their supervisors and managers are well-trained. Supervisors must also make clear that the use of Marijuana on or off the job will still play a role in their job. It is important to continue monitoring the legal and regulatory environment that marijuana use and the drug testing protocols.

Drug tests and zero-tolerance must still apply as, without it, businesses will have a difficult process of recruiting young professionals who carry liberal attitudes towards marijuana. Law experts suggest that employers might want to hold off on non-safety sensitive workers. This is because if they do testing, they will run the risk of invasion of privacy claims.

Legalized Marijuana still Affects Companies

In 2017, there was a 14.3% increase in positive drug tests for the use of marijuana. As cannabis continues to be the most common drug, the prospect of employees raises concerns about the safety of the workplace, productivity, and absenteeism.

However, employers are still facing a safety-sensitive conflict what to do and how to case their concerns. For example, an operator dropped a large piece of material in his safety-sensitive workplace. This was because he neglected to insert the forks through the pallet and backed away once the pallet fell.

While no one was hurt, the equipment and property were damaged. He was then sent to an occupational health center for alcohol and drug testing. While the tests for alcohol came out negative, it was stated that there was THC found in his system.


As legalized marijuana programs have become common in most states, companies have already begun to consider the appropriate accommodations for their employees who have permission to use medical marijuana for existing health conditions.

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