Marijuana & Workplace Drug Testing: Compliance Is Your Best Defense

Marijuana’s legalization for medical and recreational purposes has remained a hot topic up to the present. You will know in the latter part of this article what states is medical weed legal. Some states have already legalized the use of the substance, but there are still questions about it, mainly in the working area.

This post will provide the readers some essential information every user and non-users of Marijuana should know. You might have some questions after reading this. If you do so, you can write them in the FMA Health comment section.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as weed, pot, Mary Jane, herb, etc., is a greenish-gray mixture of the Cannabis sativa. People consume the substance in different ways. Some hand-rolled the leaves and used them like a cigarette. Others use pipes or bongs to take the weed. Marijuana can be used to brew tea, and if used for medicinal purposes, it is usually added to foods like candies, brownies, or cookies.

Another way of using Marijuana is by the use of vaporizers. Sinsemilla is a more potent form of Marijuana. It contains concentrated resins with a high level of Marijuana’s active ingredients such as waxy budder, hard amberlike shatter, and honeylike hash oil. The resins are popular among those who use them as medicine and in recreation.

The main ingredient of Marijuana responsible for its intoxicating effects is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. This chemical is produced abundantly in the leaves and buds, mainly of the female cannabis. Marijuana also contains 500 other chemicals and includes 100 compounds associated with THC, known as cannabinoids.

Impact of Marijuana at Work

The increasing number of people using Marijuana is quite evident in the USA, and its impact at work is showing up. Testing centers report more positive tests for the substance during pre-employment screening and the company’s yearly drug testing. Many users are wondering can you pass a drug test if they have been around weed and get hired? Employers may often use instant drug tests. Usually, such tests are conducted without a supervisor/observer. But if you are suspected of a crime or you are the type of worker, where being sober is essential: driver, doctor, police officer, etc, a supervised test will be conducted.

A positive result means refusal to hire or, for those already employees, disciplinary action or, even worse, termination. So, people are finding ways on how to pass marijuana drug testing? Employers have solid reasons for enforcing such substance abuse policy, and it includes banning Marijuana.

Some of the obvious impacts of Marijuana at work are as follows:

Change in Attitude

Employees using Marijuana usually have issues with productivity and attendance. Thus, it may affect the morale of the others employee. Despite the negative effects of Marijuana in the workplace, users of this drug are increasing because it is socially acceptable, and the dangers can be marginalized.

Safety Concerns

One of the primary reasons why Marijuana is prohibited in the workplace is the safety of employees. Various companies have a valid basis for banning the substance. The weed has been linked to increasing job accidents and injuries. Other short-term effects include difficulty dealing with problems, impaired body movement, memory loss, distraction, and altered sense of time.

The USA Laws Concerning the Use of Cannabis

The use of Marijuana was legalized in some states because of its medical benefits. From 1916 up to 1931, 29 states in the U.S. banned the use of Marijuana. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 completely prohibits the use of cannabis across the nation.

In 1950, federal laws set mandatory sentences for drug-related crimes were enacted. In 1960 a more lenient action towards weeds was seen. During this time, reports showed that the use of cannabis would not induce violence or result in serious addiction.

Congress repealed the majority of the mandatory penalties for drug-related crimes in 1970. Further, in 1972 President Nixon rejected the recommendation for decriminalization and reduced their sentences.

But in 1976, a movement against cannabis started and affected public attitudes, resulting in the War on Drugs in the 1980s. President Reagan ordered mandatory sentences. A life sentence will be sanctioned to three times offenders. The War on Drugs continued in 1989 under President George Bush.

In 1996 California was the first state that allowed weed sale and medical use for patients who have cancer, AIDS, and other chronic diseases with pain. The arguments between the state laws allowing the sale of Marijuana and the federal laws criminalizing the users continue today.

Here is the rundown on Marijuana legalization in some states within the U.S.


In Alaska, the sale of both recreational and medical cannabis is legal. In 1998 medical use of weed was granted through a ballot initiative, Measure 8. Another voting was done in 2014 to legalized recreational Marijuana.


The recreational and medical use of weed is legal in California. Proposition 215 was passed in 1996 to vote for the legalization of cannabis. The state legislature adopted SB 420, where physicians prescribing medical Marijuana were protected from being punished by law. Proposition 64 in 2016 legalized the use of cannabis for recreation.

New York

In 2014, medical Marijuana was legalized under bill A6357, and in 2021, bill A6357 was passed to legalize recreational Marijuana.


In 1998, medical cannabis was legalized in Washington through Initiative 692. In 2010, the state legislature adopted SB 5798, enabling healthcare professionals to recommend the substance for pain for patients with severe conditions. And in 2012, recreational Marijuana was legalized through Initiative 502.


Pennsylvania medical marijuana laws were updated only last June 30, 2021, when Governor Wolf signed HB 1024. It requires the employee to show proof of his medical condition, and the physician believes he will benefit a lot from medical cannabis.

Pre-Employment Screening and Workplace Drug Policies

Pre-employment screening is a hot topic as some people think that the applicant’s rights are violated. It is not the test that is being questioned or whether you pass a THC drug test. It’s how the screening is conducted. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, drug tests without motivation for suspicion are unconstitutional. Also, if the applicant does not pass the Marijuana drug test, you cannot use it to file criminal cases without the person’s consent.

Some good jobs that don’t do a drug test are only few. Private employers are not required to have a drug-free workplace policy except those in safety and security industries, positions, and federal contractors and grantees.

Some of the drug-free workplace policies are as follows:

  • Drug-free Workplace Act of 1988 is designed to focus on workplace substance use. Employers need to take action against drug use in the office by creating a written policy.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits all U.S. employers with over 15 employees from discriminating against qualified applicants and employees with a physical disability.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits private companies with 15 or more employees from discriminating against people based on sex, nationality, race, or religion.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 applies to public and private employers with over 50 workers. Employees can use their FMLA leave to treat disorders associated with substance and related issues.

The Future of Workplace Drug Testing

Generally, the use of recreational and medical Marijuana is federally illegal, with the Control Substances Act of 1970 that classifies cannabis as a Schedule I Drug. This classification does not mean that the substance is worthless. It is hard to deny the many medical benefits of Marijuana. However, many have abused it. Because of this, some companies that don’t do a drug test are considering to conduct it for pre-employment.

More states are now legalizing recreational and medical Marijuana in the future. People agree that it should be legalized, the number of stocks is increasing fast, and more states are attracted to the potential tax revenues from cannabis sales. It is only a matter of time before Marijuana becomes legal nationwide.


The number of states legalizing cannabis is increasing. Many of them have taken a balanced approach when it comes to the workplace. State laws protect employers’ rights by letting them prohibit employees from working under the influence of Marijuana or carrying the substance into the workplace. Employers do drug testing not to discriminate against anyone but to protect their company and their employees.

States that legalized the use of Marijuana still allow employers to carry out drug testing. New York and other states exempt safety-sensitive occupations from their ban on pre-employment testing for substances.

The nationwide legalization of Marijuana may happen soon. Still, it is the employer’s right to keep their workplace drug-free, so they may continue to carry out drug testing with their ultimate purpose of maintaining the workplace and their employees safe. If you are user, read more about THC detox on FMAHealth.


  • Carolyn Gaughan

    Carolyn Gaughan is an ex-executive vice president of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians and represents the state associations of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians.