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NORML: Stop Firing Workers Who Choose Weed

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Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now


NORML: Stop Firing Workers Who Choose Weed

A grassroots coalition led by cannabis decriminalization pioneer NORML is fighting to prevent employment discrimination against workers who use cannabis. Its primary focus is addressing the way companies handle pre-employment drug screening.

One of the major hurdles facing responsible cannabis users in decriminalized states is draconian workplace drug testing laws. A new NORML grassroots effort is underway to help remove this obstruction and protect the rights of members of the workforce who choose pot over beer off the clock.

NORML’s Workplace Drug Testing Coalition’s efforts will focus on four areas.

The first hurdle to clear is reforming old school workplace drug testing policies — a product of Reagan era fear-mongering and the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. While the law was centrally focused around federal contractors and grant recipients, it has inspired many in the private sector to pre-screen potential hires.

The second task will be expanding employment opportunities for marijuana consumers by highlighting just how dope this sector of the workforce is.  But as it turns out, some people are already figuring that out on their own.

In 2014, now infamous FBI Director James Comey told the American Bar Association that the FBI would have to relax its hiring policies around pot in order to get their hands on the best tech talent:

“I have to hire a great workforce to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.”

Nothing came from Comey’s statements. He was immediately confronted by then Alabama Senator (now-Attorney General ) Jefferson Sessions, who said Comey was dismissing the seriousness of marijuana use. That ended any exploration of progressive cannabis hiring at the FBI.

The third step for NORML’s coalition will be clarifying the difference between testing for THC and performance testing. Unlike drug tests, performance tests look for actual impairments, be it from drugs or unrelated impairments. They’ve been used for years by all kinds of people that want you to have your wits when you’re preforming a task, like NASA.

Finally, the coalition will highlight off-duty state law legal protections for employees

Over 190 million Americans currently live in the 29 states that have approved the use of medical cannabis and the 8 states and the District of Columbia where recreational adult use has been approved.


“Millions of responsible and otherwise law-abiding adults remain at risk of being excluded from the workforce due to a positive drug test — even where the use does not affect an individual’s job performance or has taken place days or weeks prior to the test. NORML believes that this practice is discriminatory and defies common sense”.

This new call to action has rallied activists across four states, with more expected to enter the fray soon.   A growing coalition of NORML Chapters in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington have come together to advocate for necessary legislative and workplace reforms to protect responsible marijuana consumers.

“Even though marijuana is legal and readily available in several states, consumers are being unfairly forced to choose between their job and consuming off the clock as a result of out-of-date employment practices,” said Kevin Mahmalji, National Outreach Coordinator for NORML. “That is why many NORML chapters active in legal states are now shifting their attention to protecting honest, hardworking marijuana consumers from these sort of antiquated, discriminatory workplace drug-testing practices, in particular, the use of random suspicionless urine testing.”

The coalition will be spearheaded by longtime Colorado activist Judd Golden.

“Random suspicionless drug testing of applicants or employees for past marijuana use is not just unfair and discriminatory, it’s bad for business,” said attorney Judd Golden, “The modern workforce includes countless qualified people like Brandon Coats of Colorado, a paraplegic medical marijuana patient who never was impaired on the job and had an unblemished work record. Brandon was fired from a Fortune 500 company after a random drug test and lost his case in the Colorado Supreme Court in 2015. The Court, unfortunately, found Colorado’s lawful off-duty activities law that protects employees for legal activities on their own time didn’t apply to marijuana use.”

TELL US, have you ever lost a job to drug testing because of your cannabis use?

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