January 31, 2019

Legal marijuana not causing biz to shift on testing

Photo/Courtesy
Marijuana is grown inside a sprawling New England Treatment Access facility in Franklin.

About two-thirds of Massachusetts employers test their employees or prospective employees for drug use, but only 10 percent said they plan to alter their drug testing policies now that it is legal for adults to use marijuana in Massachusetts.

An Associated Industries of Massachusetts survey found that two-thirds of the 52 Massachusetts employers who responded said they drug test employees or candidates. AIM said three-quarters of the businesses that conduct drug testing screen for THC, the primary pyschoactive component of marijuana.

Since December 2016, it has been legal for adults 21 or older to use marijuana. Though state law allows adults to use the drug, it remains illegal at the federal level and state law does not stop companies from making employment decisions based on drug testing for THC.

AIM said its survey, conducted by AIM HR Solutions, found that just 10 percent of businesses that test for drugs plan to change their approach now that marijuana is legal.

"Testing detects the presence of marijuana long after an employee may have used the drug during non-work hours. But there is no clear test to determine whether or not that employee is impaired and may represent a danger to co-workers or customers," Kyle Pardo, vice president of Consulting Services for AIM HR Solutions, said. "It has created a confusing situation for employers."

Pardo said he recommends that businesses "make sure their hiring process and progressive discipline policy contain information on the drug testing policy."

AIM's survey found that 77 percent of businesses drug test prospective employees, 54 percent test employees following an accident, 49 percent test upon reasonable suspicion and 23 percent test at random.

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