Why Require a Drug Test

June 23rd, 2015 by Dodie

33454615_sIt’s difficult enough to find decent jobs nowadays, so there are probably good reasons why companies screen workers for drugs. Of the 23 states and District of Columbia that enacted medical marijuana laws, the circumstances surrounding drug testing are cloudy, “no pun intended.”

People with specific disabilities can’t be prosecuted for using, possessing or cultivating marijuana if they have a prescription, federal drug laws still apply. In all actuality, this particular law contradicts itself since one arm of the government literally opposes another.

Rights or Stats

Fact is, any employee and/or applicant can refuse a drug test. Consequently, employers don’t have to extend the employment nor consider anyone who refuses screenings. Many employees believe this violates their privacy, or singles them out due to their race, age, or appearance.

In 2010, the feds reported African-Americans were four times likelier to be arrested for marijuana than Caucasian-Americans, even though cannabis use among both groups is equal. Four years earlier, statistics showed:

• Approximately 20 million Americans abused drugs and alcohol
• Approximately 57 million Americans over age 12 binged 5 or more alcoholic drinks at least once in a month

Thankfully, during that time, illicit drug use among youth 12 to 17 declined, but usage among people between 50 and 59 grew. Unfortunately, the greatest amount of illicit drug use was with construction workers (15%), and food service workers (17%). So it’s no surprise why companies conduct widespread testing.

Law or Liability

Even though many states acknowledge medical marijuana, it’s at the discretion of employers to hire. Regardless of the legalization of cannabis, it doesn’t entitle applicants with prescriptions to drug clearances. So the question is, how does the American Disability Act (ADA) and Equal employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) statutes apply to medical marijuana?

Businesses lose $80 billion yearly due to sick days and workplace accidents. This gives credence to why companies screen applicants and randomly test employees. Other reasons include:

• Employee negligence due to impairment
• Liability cost for employee faults
• Drug screening reduces worker’s compensation cost

Reports state that employees on drugs are 3 times likelier to be late and have workplace accidents; and 5 times likelier to file worker’s compensation claims. Truth is, no company wants OSHA or a state agency to make unauthorized visits because of negligence.

Legal Intrusion

Our elected officials realize that drug screenings convey one’s past and/or present drug use, but they’re necessary. Now the primary issue with screenings typically surrounds the type of drugs detected. For example, a prescription for hydrocodone or codeine is probably more acceptable than a medical marijuana prescription.

For those who believe that drug screening is intrusive, thoroughly research your state’s laws. It’s vital for everyone to know their employment rights, especially employees; that’s because employees stand to lose much more than applicants, since applicants can’t be fired!

Whose Property Right

The issue of marijuana is also widely discussed in the circles of property owners. To elaborate, some landlords are campaigning for the right to test housing applicants. The $20 to $30 it cost to screen prospective tenants is worth it to many landlords, because they could refuse housing if drugs are detected. If this right is universally accepted, these questions should be asked:

• Would a positive marijuana screening translate to indecency?
• Does this violate one’s rights in states that permit medical marijuana?
• Would this give landlords leeway to unlawfully enter tenants’ residences?

Whatever side of the issue you stand on, the issue of medical marijuana will obviously not be taken lightly. If you are a landlord or an employer, the best thing that you can do is explore your options. A good place to start is to know more about what you exactly get out of a screening service — and Background Check Solutions, which has been providing screening solutions since the 80s, is that place!

Comments are closed.