CHICAGO — Illicit drugs are increasing in the workplace. And marijuana is leading the way. What should employers do?
The answer has become more complicated with the growing number of states legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational use.
Should drug tests even include marijuana anymore? If they do, and evidence of marijuana use pops up, should employees be penalized? And further, do employers have to accommodate for the medical use of marijuana under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or state human rights laws?
Such questions are moving to the front burner as employers face a greater risk than ever from a growing culture of impairment that shows no signs of tapering off any time soon. Workforce drug positivity hit a 14-year high in 2018, according to a new analysis from Quest Diagnostics, a leading provider of drug test information.
For a growing number of individuals, cannabis has become the illicit drug of choice.
“Marijuana is the second most widely abused substance nationwide, after alcohol,” says Amy Ronshausen, executive director of Drug Free America Foundation, Inc., St Petersburg, Fl. (www.dfaf.org).
“According to a survey by drugabuse.com more than one in five respondents said they use marijuana recreationally at work during work hours.” Ronshausen says. “Nearly five percent admitted to daily use and more than 13 percent use it more than once a month.”
WHY THE SUDDEN UPSURGE?
It’s clearly due to the growing acceptability of marijuana by society in general. “The legalization of marijuana on the state level has continued to grow since California first allowed the drug’s use for medical purposes in 1996,” says Joe Reilly, president of his own drug testing consulting firm in Melbourne, Fla. (www.joereilly. com). “Typically, states will first pass legislation legalizing medical marijuana. Later they allow its recreational use.”
Thirty-three states now have medical marijuana statutes.