Home Culture Does Cannabis Legalization Affect Employer Drug Testing?

Does Cannabis Legalization Affect Employer Drug Testing?


As cannabis legalization continues to be a hot button issue this election season, some business owners and employers are conflicted about their policies of drug testing. Most legal cannabis business owners likely only have an issue with their employees being high on the job. But some employers in other industries with businesses in legal states – which could finally include California this fall – are conflicted about whether to continue testing their employees for cannabis.

Some business leaders and employment experts are saying employers are starting to find themselves with legal issues if they still ask a job applicant for a urine sample. This typical hiring protocol drug screening might violate the individual worker’s right to privacy if they have a medical condition. For potential employees complying with drug testing typically means choosing either to refuse the urine test and not getting the job, or complying and having the employer know their consumption habits.

In a perfect world, a business owner has a right to decide whether they want a “drug-free workplace” (even though the drug caffeine always seems perfectly fine) or whether they choose to stay out of the personal lives of their employees. If the employee is involved in a major accident or incident, it makes sense that an investigation and a drug test would be in order. Business owners invest their lives into their companies, so it is certainly understandable that they would want all of their employees to be responsible and clear-headed.

But, as long as employee performance meets expectations, it shouldn’t really matter, right? If only it were that simple. Despite the advancements towards legalization we’ve seen recently, many employers still buy into the age-old prohibitionist mindset that says going out for drinks during happy hour with coworkers is socially acceptable; but ingesting a plant medicine is not – even if it’s legal.

On the employee side, times are tough and the job market is certainly not the best it’s ever been. The jobs just aren’t there for many Americans looking for work, and this sometimes leads to settling compromises. Some potential pro-cannabis employees would have to not only go against their principles, but also discontinue use of a plant medicine that helps treat whatever ails them. As legalization continues to progress and people become more educated about cannabis, these issues should start to fade away.

What do you think? Should employers have the legal right to drug test all of their employees and potential hires? Is it better to test or not? How can job seekers protect themselves?


  1. No they should not test anyone for anything. What a person does on their own time is their business. So far drug testing programs are bias unfairly targeting cannabis users. As far as I am concerned it is the employer that lose out by not having skilled labor. It is a well known fact that most young people pick-up cannabis smoking is college. They are also the ones that tend to not drop-out of school unlike the drunks that attend for one or two terms then out they go!

  2. I am a business owner of 36 years in the state of FL. About ten years ago we decided to get rid of random drug testing because we lost several good employees due to testing positive for THC. We wanted to keep these employees but our insurance company said they would drop us. So we decided to only drug test during the hiring process and if there is an accident. As the owner of the company I choose to look the other way when new hires test positive for THC. I would much rather have an employee go home and smoke a joint then drink alcohol but what an employee does on their own time is none of my business. As long as they show up on time and complete the task at hand, I could care less what they do behind closed doors. I know a lot of business owners who feel the same way. We have high hopes or the future of cannabis legalization here in FL.

  3. Love these comments….I totally agree not only do people who fail a pre-emplyment drug test because of THC feel that they have to now diclose medical issues they may have and are strictly using marijuana for medical reasons but also way more dangerous drugs go out of the system in 2 to 3 days and are very easily misssed in a drug test because of that. For example heroin, coke, crystal meth, crack, alcohol, prescription narcotics.. These things I have actually seen used in the corporate workplace especially Coke, heroin, pills and alcohol which completely cloud judgement and productivity but I have never seen anyone light up a joint in a corporate building! So drug testing before hiring really doesn’t prove anything other than some people may have a medical issue and use medical marijuana or they may go home at night and take a few puffs rather than have a drink or take a handful of prescribed narcotics. Employers should take those things into consideration when thc shows up for approx 30 days and nothing else does. That doesn’t mean they’re not drinking every night or on the job or using heroin or Coke or pills in the workplace.

  4. Maybe have testing on a vouluntary basis, and offer incentives, such as a bonus or a discounted health insurance premium as methods of encouraging their employees to provide urine samples. If it’s not mandatory, the risk of any legal damage is greatly reduced, and employers will have a much more positive response from their employees just by giving them the choice and rewarding them for volunteering to participate in this outdated procedure.

    Sidenote: We all need to remember that life is fleeting, and we can’t get it back once it’s gone. We need to remember what the really important things are in life and we need to cherish and be grateful for them. We need to stop complaining, blaming others, and just being so freaking judgemental and critical of each other all the time. How much of your time and energy is used for selfish reasons, and how much is used for selfless reasons?

  5. Falls under discrimination, an employer can’t bar you from employment entirely based on using tobacco or caffeine, thus legal medicines too can’t be the singular reason for non-hiring.
    This is not to be considered legal advice, if you require legal advise then please contact a Lawyer or attourney who are members of the BAR Association.