A new study shows that almost 10% of Americans are showing up to work stoned. How does this affect the workplace?
Mashable recently used Survey Monkey to conduct a survey of over 500 Americans on the topic of ‘drug use in the workplace’ and found that just less than 10% of the survey participants had at some time gone to work under the influence of marijuana – and 1.5% of participants said that it was “very likely” that they would go to work ‘stoned’ again in the future.
Marijuana is legal in 23 states for medicinal purposes, and is completely legal for recreational use in two states (Colorado and Washington). However, almost 81% of the participants who had gone to work under its influence had obtained the drug illegally. But legal or illegal purchasing aside, it begs the question – will policies need to be revised in order to keep marijuana use out of the workplace? Is drug testing now necessary in all types of working environments?
Drug Testing for Marijuana Use
Many large companies, or industries that involve operating machinery, have been using drug tests in the workplace for as long we can remember. But now even small business are looking at the possibility of marijuana and other drug testing in the workplace, but it is not as simple as it sounds.
If someone had been drinking while on the job, a simple breathalyser test would let the employer know how intoxicated the individual was, and whether or not they should be allowed at work. If the employee had not had a drink in the past 24 hours, their blood alcohol content would be zero.
Marijuana, however, is a different story. With a simple urine test (most commonly used in workplace drug testing), an occasional weed smoker could test positive for up to 7 days after they smoked a joint. Which means that if an employee took a hiking trip on the weekend in Colorado and legally smoked weed that they purchased at a local marijuana shop, they could test positive for THC the following Tuesday when they were back at work – and then what?
Employers cannot fire employees for taking part in perfectly legal activities whilst on their days off – can they? According to Rachel Gillette, director of the Colorado chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, there is not yet a tool that can test whether a person is actually impaired from smoking marijuana – meaning that it is nearly impossible for an employer to tell whether their employee only smoked on the weekend, or if they are currently under the influence – impairing performance on the job.
Keeping Up With the New Laws
As marijuana has been made legal in two states (and likely more will follow suit soon), is the U.S. ready for the side effects? It appears that there are still many fine details that need to be worked out regarding employment and penalties, not to mention the potential increase in marijuana addiction rates. Making marijuana legal doesn’t mean that it comes without consequences. Alcohol for example, has been legal for decades, and remains one of the most addictive substances causing more than 88,000 deaths per year in the U.S. alone. If you or someone you know is experiencing marijuana or alcohol addiction, get help from a professional today.