On May 21, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation that decriminalizes marijuana possession, joining a majority of states that have ceased treating the drug as a criminal offense. Here’s what employers in Virginia need to know about these changes once they go into effect on July 1.

As it stands today, 33 states and Washington D.C. have authorized the medical use of marijuana. Eleven of those states and Washington, D.C also allow the personal ‘adult-use’ of marijuana.  With 2020 being a presidential election year, efforts to include marijuana on this years’ ballot are rampant! While most of the past marijuana laws where approved by a majority vote of the people, a trend that we expect to see more are legalization efforts through state Legislature actions. 

With legal marijuana use laws continuing to make traction throughout the U.S., and the perception of a dwindling job applicant pool, some employers are asking if they should continue to conduct screening for marijuana. Some employers are also challenging the entire idea of performing drug testing in their workplaces.  Is there still a benefit to having a drug-free workplace program?

In short, the answer is, “YES!”  Why? Because the risks of not testing are real. There is no mystery why this is so, look at the latest statistics:

Ringing in a new year brings new requirements for employers managing their workplace drug and alcohol screening programs. From state-specific laws to changes at the federal level, it is critical to understand these changes and make the appropriate internal adjustments to ensure your compliance.

State Laws

Several states, and one city, have new laws that employers must comply with here in the new year. Below is a summary of the significant changes:

Illinois

Understanding the Role of Reasonable Suspicion Testing

Reasonable suspicion drug testing has long been a common practice and useful tool for enforcing drug-free workplaces. It’s a fair and reliable testing method that can both dissuade and detect drug and alcohol use. It’s also an issue of Individual privacy versus an employer’s responsibility for maintaining a safe workplace. With the trend of new laws (marijuana, etc.) impacting when or under what circumstances employers can conduct a drug test, the role of reasonable suspicion has never been more critical than ever before.

Why Random Drug Testing Makes Sense for Healthcare Employers

While mandatory random employee drug testing is common in safety-sensitive positions, the vast majority of healthcare professionals who are responsible for patient care are not subject to any kind of monitoring for substance abuse. 

Drug testing remains an essential part of workplace safety, providing numerous benefits to employers, regardless of industry. While random drug testing provides an extra layer of safety, it is not very common in the healthcare industry.

In the early years of state medical marijuana rulemaking, the language of the laws largely excluded the workplace. It is safe to say that tide has turned, and employers now face limitations unlike they ever have before. State-specific rules related to medical and personal use of marijuana are changing at a very rapid pace, and the language of these laws differ from each other significantly.  Employers must be sure their drug testing programs accurately reflect the rules that impact them in each of the states’ where they operate.

6 Common Methods for Employee Drug Testing

With our nation on the heels of an opioid epidemic, states continuing to legalize marijuana use, drug testing positivity rates continuing to rise, and the perception of a dwindling job applicant pool, some employers are challenging the entire idea of performing drug testing in their workplaces. Are there still benefits for conducting employee drug testing?

Marijuana Laws & Disability Discrimination: What Employers Need to Know

More than half of the states in our country have introduced and implemented laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical use. A ‘growing’ handful of states have also authorized the personal (‘recreational’) use of marijuana.  These state laws are in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA)(21 USC §812), which still holds that the possession of marijuana is a crime.

Healthcare is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, employing over 18 million workers. Healthcare workers face a wide range of hazards on the job, including sharps injuries, harmful exposures to chemicals and hazardous drugs, back injuries, violence, and stress. Drug use and abuse in the workplace not only puts the employees and patients at risk, it leaves the employers vulnerable to negligence claims and costs.  A strong and defensible drug and alcohol testing program and policy, including a robust random testing program, helps protect employers and their bottom line. 

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