Although marijuana is legal in some form or fashion in over half of the states that constitute America, companies still have the right to terminate employees based solely on a positive drug test for the herb’s stoner compound, THC. Even patients participating in state-mandated medical marijuana programs can be prevented from getting a job because many employers still feel the need to test for weed as part of the application process.
This is one of the most controversial aspects of the marijuana legalization movement, as advocates argue that just because THC metabolites are present in person’s system doesn’t necessarily mean they are not productive members of society. New York could be the first to establish policies based on this argument.
The Whole Package?
A piece of legislation introduced by New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams would prevent most employers from testing job applicants for marijuana as a condition of employment. The bill, which is being considered as part of the state’s legalization package, would make it unlawful for companies to test new applicants for weed. It’s a novel concept, Williams says. After all, if marijuana is going legal for adults statewide, “it doesn’t make sense that” a positive test for THC “would prevent someone from getting gainful employment,” he told the New York Daily News.
We couldn’t agree more. But the measure is far from perfect.
Under the proposal, workers involved in an on-the-job accident could still be tested for marijuana. Unfortunately, a positive result could give employers all the muscle they need to hand an employee with his or her walking papers.
In addition, not every member of the New York workforce would benefit from the no drug-testing provision. Police officers, lifeguards and workers who operate heavy machinery would still have to pee weed-free to hold those positions. Also, companies bound by federal contracts would have to test their workers as well.
But at the very least, the bill would open up some opportunities that have not been available for years.
The Breakdown on How THC Breaks Down
The problem with marijuana and the workforce is mostly due to how weed metabolizes in the human body. Unlike alcohol, THC can linger in a person’s system for up to 30 days after their last use, which makes it difficult — in fact, it makes it next to impossible — to determine whether a worker is impaired or if they just consumed marijuana at some point over the course of the last month.
As of now, there are no efficient marijuana testing methods that can help sort this issue out like a fine science. But lawmakers believe people should be given a chance to prove themselves in the workplace.
“If you ingest weed in whatever manner a month ago, I’m not sure how that prevents you from doing your job now,” Williams said.
More Gestures Towards Progressive Policy
Other lawmakers would also like to end the trials and tribulations that a positive screening for THC can sometimes bring. Councilman Donovan Richards, the Council’s Public Safety Committee chairman, plans to introduce legislation soon that would prevent people on city probation from being tested for weed. Richards says the drug testing regulations in place now are just another way to control the prison population, according to the New York Daily News report.
“While we’re working to decrease the population on Rikers, we should be finding reasons to keep people out of the system, not more hurdles to trip them up and send them back,” Richards said.
Lawmakers are also considering a proposal that would force New York City officials to review cases in which Child Protective Services was called in to intervene with families based on a positive test for marijuana. Councilman Antonio Reynoso’s bill would not eliminate reports detailing marijuana use to the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), but it would set the policy up for review in the future.
New York is predicted to become one of the next states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. These bills are just an example at some of the progressive lengths lawmakers are looking into when it comes to drafting the law.
Let’s just hope the issue doesn’t get to convoluted and prevent legalization from happening in 2019. It is also important to remember that federal marijuana legalization would eliminate the majority of these concerns with drug testing straight away.
TELL US, does your employer drug test for THC?