marijuana testing









When Gallup began tracking the average American’s opinion on legalized marijuana almost 50 years ago most people would never have guessed that by 2016 it would have reached a support level of 60%! For the first time in US history, individual states have begun to receive majority votes for the legalization of medical and recreational use. With this kind of support many corporate leaders have begun to ask themselves, do we continue to enforce our drug-free workplace policy?

The Pros

  • Marijuana use has always been a touchy legal subject in this country and considering the ever-changing political climate it probably will remain that way for years to come. Changing company policy, however, is a costly and legally binding decision. If in fact, support once again begins to fade for marijuana use it could give businesses that choose to opt-out of a federally-supported law a hit in public image. There is also an inevitable cost to overall employee confidence.
  • We just don’t have enough studies in place to know the long-term effects of hiring habitual marijuana users. What we do know is that substance abuse in this country is on the rise and it’s costing businesses a fortune. For the most recent numbers on drug abuse costs, we have to dig all the back to 2007. Even then, the cost to businesses was estimated at $193 billion dollars, and an astonishing $600 billion to the country as a whole! Broken down that’s $61 billion in criminal justice, $11 billion in healthcare costs, and $120 billion in lost productivity.
  • Omitting the test for marijuana can lead to more drug users joining your company. A startling study by heavy equipment manufacturer JCB found that 50% of one job fair’s applicants left when they found out that a drug testing policy would be enforced. Due to issues like safety and production many decision makers feel that it is not worth the risk to bring on new hires that are potential drug users.

The Cons

  • Saving money, or, more accurately the illusion of saving money. Some hiring managers mistakenly think that omitting marijuana testing will be a company cost saver. The fact is that having laboratories ignore a positive result for marijuana does not decrease the panel cost, there are even reports that some facilities charge more for the change.
  • Privacy is another argument that has popped up in marijuana-friendly states recently. The argument sounds like this: “If marijuana is now legal then it’s invasive to employees to force testing.” In truth, most states that have legalized marijuana still recommend and support employers rights to test for the drug and hold employees accountable.


It is a company’s legal right to test for marijuana use in both current and potential employees. Time will tell where support will go from here, but for now, states that freely allow marijuana use are in the minority and federal law still prohibits its use.

The possible costs to businesses in increased employee injuries, decreased workplace safety and lost productivity is not yet worth the risk for any company. Marijuana use at workplace is at a 12 year high so it’s always a wise decision to include pot testing in your drug testing policies.

Having said all that, we have clients who do not want to test for marijuana. That is their informed choice, and we are happy to have their business. When it comes down to it, employers are allowed to make their own rules, so it’s ultimately up to you.