Long after the last state legalizes marijuana, businesses are still going to drug test for cannabis.
Regardless of its legal status, minds will have to be changed about the perception of marijuana. It’s not just a political battle, but a cultural one as well.
It’s interesting how so many people have this stereotype in mind when it comes to people who consume cannabis, yet little do they know that one of their best co-workers or employees tokes up at home to relax after a long day at work.
In order to change that perception, more people need to be as open about their consumption of marijuana as they are with alcohol. Tragically, this is a tough endeavor as most fear losing their jobs over the issue.
Most people who consume cannabis don’t go to their jobs while under its effects, just as most people who consume alcohol don’t go to work intoxicated. There’s always those who do, and some employers don’t mind at all. It largely depends on the type of business and work being done. In fact, many people who interact with employees who are under the effects of alcohol or cannabis largely don’t even realize it.
Should people go to work under the influence of a drug? That’s largely for employers to decide. Some people are unable to function without certain drugs in their body though. One such case is that of Texas teacher Clif Deuvall who was given teaching awards by the state, all while he consumed marijuana medicinally before going to class each morning.
In cases of a job which requires operating heavy equipment which could put other people in harm’s way, in just about all cases we don’t want those employees to be under the influence of anything that could impair their ability to operate that equipment.
What is certain though is that the substances a person consumes completely outside of work should not be a factor in hiring or firing decisions so long as it is not affecting their work performance.
If an employer is set on testing employees to ensure soberness at work, the current method of drug testing needs to be tossed in favor of a better system.
With alcohol, we have the breathalyzer test which can detect how much if any alcohol a person has in their system. It does not penalize them for drinking the day before, or even a month beforehand.
With marijuana though, the only test is for metabolites in a person’s body, specifically THC metabolites. Being that these metabolites are fat soluble, meaning they can be stored in fat cells, traces can be detected for various amounts of time long after the effects of cannabis have worn off.
Depending on how much fat a person’s body has and how much cannabis they consume, the time in which it takes for the metabolites to exit their body will vary. For those who consume once or twice a month this can be as little as three days, and for extremely heavy consumers, up to a month and a half. This means people who consume marijuana can be unfairly targeted long after consumption.
This requires employers to adopt a new testing system which can detect current active amounts of THC in the body. These tests already largely exist, though could be improved drastically as they aren’t nearly accurate enough to determine if someone is immediately under the effects of cannabis. Companies only have to make a policy change to move towards more reliable testing, but it will likely take public pressure for many to do so.
Considering that marijuana is now legal in two states, medically legal in 20 states plus Washington, DC, and headed for legalization in as many as 10 states in 2014, it simply does not make sense to fire people for consumption of a legal substance outside of work.
By: Stephen Carter
Contact Stephen via email at TXCann@gmail.com