If you think that the legalization of marijuana will make the substance more acceptable in the workplace, then you’re clearly mistaken.
According to a survey done by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) among 623 Human Resource managers in states where cannabis is considered legal, more than half of them are following policies that restrict the employment of cannabis users. Around 38 percent of them even said that they will flat-out reject job applicants who use cannabis, even if they’re doing it for medicinal purposes. Only six percent said that they will only reject recreational marijuana users.
“There is what I consider to be a significant number of employers that are saying they wouldn’t hire an employee that uses marijuana,” said SHRM’s director of survey programs Evren Esen.
However, this cannot be considered discrimination against marijuana users because federal law still considers cannabis as a controlled substance. Hence, companies can adapt stricter policies with regard to pot use. Even the Colorado Supreme Court ruled last summer that it’s legal to fire an employee for smoking legal medical marijuana even when he’s not at work.
But still, HR managers admit that what they proclaim doesn’t always match what they do. For instance, SHRM’s numbers show that fewer employers are doing drug tests now compared to five years ago. Mountain States Employers Council from Denver also reported that only one in five companies plan to make drug-testing stricter after Colorado’s weed legalization. The survey also found out that employers are more likely to subject their current employees to drug tests only if they have the reason to believe that they go to work high.
“Some companies have stated more clearly that they have the right to test, letting employees know that it’s not okay to work under the influence,” said HR coordinator Lara J. Makinen from Denver-based engineering consulting firm Atkins.
They are only bound to make more drastic changes if their employees’ pot use starts interfering with their work.
“It doesn’t appear to be a really major problem,” Esen said. “It doesn’t seem like employees are going out there and rampantly using marijuana in greater numbers than before.”
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