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Companies Around the Country are Giving Up On Drug Testing for Marijuana

Job growth in the United States has been climbing and the unemployment rate has been on the decline with the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting on Friday that non-farm payroll jobs climbed by 164,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9% from 4.1%. The country is seeing such strong job growth that employers are hiring more people without high school diplomas and there is a new trend to drop drug testing for cannabis.

Along with the marijuana legalization movement has come a broader awareness of the realities of cannabis use, and employers are getting the message as well. Especially in states that have legalized cannabis such as Nevada, employers are becoming more lenient when it comes to cannabis consumption. Caesars Palace, one of Las Vegas’s most historic casino resorts, recently dropped testing its applicants and employees for cannabis consumption although it remains completely restricted to come to work high or use cannabis while at work.

“It has come out of nowhere,” said Michael Clarkson, head of the drug testing practice at Ogletree Deakins, a law firm. “I have heard from lots of clients things like, ‘I can’t staff the third shift and test for marijuana.’”

The Trump administration also may be softening its resistance to legal marijuana. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta suggested at a congressional hearing last month that employers should take a “step back” on drug testing.

There is no definitive data on how many companies conduct drug tests, though the Society for Human Resources Management found in a survey that 57 percent do so. Nor is there any recent data on how many have dropped marijuana from mandatory drug testing.

After the Drug-Free Workplace Act was enacted in 1988, amid concerns about cocaine use, drug testing spread to most large companies. All Fortune 500 companies now engage in some form of drug testing, according to Barry Sample, a senior director at Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest testing firms.

As knowledge continues to spread about the realities of cannabis consumption, employers and states may begin to realize that regulating and enforcing rules towards cannabis should be adminstered similarly to alcohol. A lot of research suggests that alcohol is a more dangerous drug and can impair people much more than cannabis. While it will never be acceptable to be impaired on any sort of drug while at work, during off hours if people are allowed to consume alcohol then why should they not also be able to smoke marijuana?

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