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Companies Quietly Removing Marijuana From Drug Testing

The stories regarding the legalization, decriminalization and medicinal application of marijuana have become commonplace in recent years. While much of the West Coast, Colorado and parts of the Northeast have legalized pot for recreational use, many states like Georgia have not changed their laws.

Nonetheless, according to a recent article in the Associated Press, employers throughout the country are quietly removing marijuana from the list of drugs tested for before hiring employees.

Robust Economy Partially Responsible

Along with changing opinions on the dangers of marijuana, this shift by businesses is partially in response to the thin labor pool and the robust job market over the last year. Employers simply can’t be as selective, particularly when trying to staff third shift positions. Typical companies likely to embrace this shift include such labor-intensive industries as health care, hospitality, light manufacturing and warehousing.

Of course, employers do not want to assume the risk of workers using while on the job, and companies still create employment contracts to that effect with help of a knowledgeable attorney who can make sure that both sides are protected. Companies may also tailor the drug test to fit the job description, maintaining marijuana testing for workers operating a forklift or potentially dangerous machinery. The same will be said for health care workers who potentially work around prescription drugs.

Companies Reluctant To Admit This Shift

Drug testing began after the federal government enacted the Drug-Free Workplace Act in 1988. While it initially targeted contractors working with the U.S. government, many private companies and all Fortune 500 companies subsequently instituted some form of drug testing.

Public perception regarding marijuana use has evolved in recent years, yet companies remain quiet about the policy shift. Those located in one of the nine states where recreational use is legal, however, may include a brief disclaimer regarding marijuana in the information on their standard drug tests.

Georgia does not currently allow use of marijuana recreationally or for medicinal purposes.

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