Background Screening

As the popularity and legality surrounding marijuana in America continue to grow and evolve, business leaders are left with questions regarding employment and marijuana use, especially in the context of pre-employment drug tests and drug screenings.

With 24 states, plus the District of Columbia, having legalized the recreational use of marijuana and 38 states, 4 of the 5 U.S. territories, and D.C. legally protecting the use of medical marijuana, the question is can an employer still deny employment to a job seeker who tests positive for marijuana or, for that matter, terminate an employee for marijuana use?

When it comes to drug abuse in the workplace, your leadership team and hiring managers need a partner they can trust to deliver informative, safe, and legal services to help improve your hiring process. Barada Associates is that partner.

Since 1979, we’ve worked at the front line of the industry, keeping a firm finger on the pulse of industry trends like marijuana testing tips and legality. Our comprehensive background screening services include thorough drug tests for employees across diverse industries. We offer the most common urine test, but can also facilitate hair tests, blood tests, and whatever kind of background screening you need to ensure you hire the best candidate for the job.

Read on to learn more about what to do if your candidate has a positive test result for marijuana or THC metabolites, or contact Barada Associates today to schedule your next urine drug screens.

What’s the Difference Between Recreational Vs. Medical Marijuana?

The first thing you need to understand about the legality of marijuana in the U.S. is there are currently two conversations about the drug happening at the same time. One is about medical marijuana use and the other is about legalizing recreational marijuana.

There is a big difference between adult-use cannabis, which people use for recreation, and medical cannabis, which doctors prescribe to patients to treat various conditions. While all types of marijuana are illegal under U.S. federal law and are classified as a Schedule 1 substance, some states have laws that take this distinction into account, specifically when talking about substance use at work and how it can affect an employer’s drug policy.

Are Drug-Free Workplaces Legal?

Even with these varying laws in place, employers are legally allowed to have a drug-free workplace and to enforce zero-tolerance policies. However, small business owners need to be aware of whether any of their employees are medical marijuana patients and if state laws protect their usage of cannabis in the workplace or against the failure of employer-mandated drug tests.

Policies regarding drug use in the workplace can be complicated, especially when it comes to employee morale. Many employees argue that legal cannabis use outside of work should not be grounds for termination if they fail a workplace drug test. The overlap often occurs because of the varying amount of time marijuana can stay in your system.

According to the American Addiction Centers, THC can be detected in hair for about 90 days, urine for one day to one month, saliva for up to 24 hours, and blood for roughly 12 hours. All of these ranges depend on the individual’s frequency of use, hydration levels, and other factors.

Employers need to keep in mind the attitude of their workforce when making disciplinary decisions related to drug testing.

Why Does Your State Matter For Drug Tests?

In states where employment is “at-will,” meaning companies can dismiss workers without a “just cause,” firms likely can prohibit marijuana consumption regardless of state or federal law. Some states are also providing “outs” for employers. For example, California’s Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use, says California employers can penalize workers who test positive for marijuana use, whether or not they were high on the job.

With recreational marijuana use still illegal at the federal level, employees of federal agencies, as well as workers in federally regulated industries such as transportation, banking, and health care, are prohibited from using marijuana—even during off-hours. Employers outside of those industries should stay abreast of changes in state laws, including not only marijuana usage laws but also drug-testing laws.

Firms in states where marijuana use is legal—whether for medicinal or recreational purposes—should not take adverse action against a candidate without consulting legal counsel. Ten states have “compassionate care” statutes that allow marijuana to be used for medical reasons. Under these laws, employers generally cannot disqualify someone from work because that person tested positive for marijuana.

Where is Marijuana Legal? A State-by-State Guide

Marijuana is legal in some capacity in the following states:

  • Alabama: medical marijuana legal
  • Alaska: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Arizona: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Arkansas: medical marijuana legal
  • California: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Colorado: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Connecticut: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Delaware: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Florida: medical marijuana legal
  • Hawaii: medical marijuana legal
  • Illinois: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Iowa: medical marijuana legal
  • Kentucky: medical marijuana legal
  • Louisiana: medical marijuana legal
  • Maine: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Maryland: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Massachusetts: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Michigan: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Minnesota: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Mississippi: medical marijuana legal
  • Missouri: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Montana: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Nevada: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • New Hampshire: medical marijuana legal
  • New Jersey: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • New Mexico: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • New York: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • North Dakota: medical marijuana legal
  • Ohio: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Oklahoma: medical marijuana legal
  • Oregon: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Pennsylvania: medical marijuana legal
  • Rhode Island: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • South Dakota: medical marijuana legal
  • Utah: medical marijuana legal
  • Vermont: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Virginia: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • Washington: medical & recreational marijuana legal
  • West Virginia: medical marijuana legal

Specific laws vary from state to state; online resources like the Marijuana Policy Project can provide more details about the legality of cannabis and marijuana in your area.

How Are Most Companies Handling Drug Testing?

Companies react to marijuana in the workplace depending on the state you are working in and the industry you are working in. For some, the overarching legality of marijuana on the federal level has made them wary and has led them to implement a zero-tolerance plan. 

However, most states that have legalized medical or recreational cannabis leave the testing decisions up to the individual employer’s discretion. A handful of states have policies that require employers to make accommodations for these patients, but significantly fewer states have this requirement.

If you are not sure about your state’s stance on this, please make sure you are doing your research before making any final decisions. Working with a professional background check firm like Barada, which has expertise in drug testing legislation across the country, can also ensure your drug use policy is compliant with local, state, and federal regulations.

Where Does Barada Stand on Drug Tests and Positive Test Results?

As a leader in employment services, Barada Associates has always urged companies to develop and maintain comprehensive, legally acceptable drug policies. As laws over marijuana legalization continue to evolve, it will become increasingly important for these policies to address marijuana use. 

It will also become more and more critical for you to pay attention to laws surrounding your state and the overall federal laws. If your company is not on top of this, you could find yourself running into legal issues down the road.

Barada offers the facilitation of an array of drug screenings, including urine tests, blood tests, and more for employers in the following scenarios:

  • During the pre-employment process
  • Under reasonable suspicion
  • Post-accident
  • Random testing
  • Periodically
  • When an employee returns from a planned extended absence
  • When an employee returns from a probationary period
  • Before an employee is promoted
  • Voluntarily

Whether collecting urine samples for a urine drug test, collecting hair safely and securely for a hair test, or helping develop policies to handle positive tests when they pop up, we offer thorough services related to all background screening.

Give us a call today to see how we can help combat marijuana use in your workplace.

Contact Us Today for Pre-Employment Drug Tests

If you still have questions about employment for marijuana users in states where it is not legal, reach out to our employment experts today. Barada Associates is an industry-leading background-checking company that provides high-quality services to a variety of companies. If you are struggling to find the best-fit employees for your company, reach out to us today!