Catching your employees orange handed

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Posted by Mindy Fineout

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September 3, 2013

Times are A- Changin’. On the ballot this year, Washington was one of two states to legalize recreational marijuana. Furthermore, on August 16-18th, “Operation Orange Fingers,” took place at Seattle’s annual Hemp Fest, showing recreational marijuana users that as long as they adhere to legal guidelines, police will no longer stand between smokers and their pipes. The operation involved police officers attending the event, and handing out hundreds of bags of Doritos to Marijuana users to curb their munchies while educating them of the new state laws regarding cannabis usage.

In 1996, California became the Medical Marijuana Pioneers, being the first state to legalize the drug for medicinal use. Since then, 19 states have followed suit, with several more seeing the issue on ballots for the first time.

But where does this leave drug testing as it pertains to companies where state law contradicts federal law? The answer: it’s still a bit hazy. Where Washington State supports the initiative to legalize, it is still not federally recognized, and though the law varies state by state as it pertains to medical use as to whether employers can refuse to hire based on positive test results for cannabis, in most states, companies can still adopt a “no tolerance” policy, leaving medical and recreational users following the law, out of a job.

It may take a while for employers to catch up with the laws. Since the new law does not provide protection from workplace drug policies, companies can still enforce drug-free policies. According to the Seattle times, these policies are likely to be controversial in workplaces, specifically those that employ union workers. Dan Swedlow, senior staff attorney of Teamsters local 117, was quoted saying, “We’re clearly headed for a showdown with some employers.”

There’s still a lot of work ahead before employers recognize the legality of I-502, there have been many court cases around the country upholding the employers’ right to use drug tests and make hiring and firing decisions based on them.

Where many arguments can be made to employers, that they are losing good candidates, or that they are discriminating, it will likely be a slow evolution as more states follow Washington. So for the time being, the best course of action for job seekers, is to put out their joints, at least while searching for employment.

Topics: Staff Management, Leadership & Management

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