Employers testing for drugs typically use a five-panel test that includes amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP). However, some employers have removed marijuana from the panel. There is also the question of the reliability of drug tests. Most employers use urinalysis as their preferred screening method because it is relatively inexpensive, rapid and non-invasive and can reveal the use of illicit or prescription drugs.
The downside to urinalysis is that it only detects recent marijuana use. THC, the chemical that produces the psychoactive effects of marijuana, can stay in the body for up to several weeks. This means that a positive result does not necessarily indicate a current disability at work or talk about the frequency of use. So, if a lawyer is an occasional marijuana user on a strange weekend, does that affect their overall ability to do their job? If an employee is visibly disabled on the job or possesses marijuana on the job, an employer could test and sanction a worker.
A New York City law will soon prohibit many employers from taking any pre-employment marijuana test, and a Nevada law now prohibits employers from taking adverse action based on a positive pre-employment marijuana test result. Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment that “random marijuana testing in the workplace, such as pre-employment drug screening, has never been an evidence-based policy. Since there is no device that can test for active deterioration and tests for THC metabolites can show traces of marijuana for weeks after a person uses marijuana, employers must demonstrate that a given worker “manifests specific articulable symptoms of deterioration for punish them for using marijuana in service. But certain employers are required to test marijuana under federal law, the federal government classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug similar to heroin, and others want to make sure they don't employ drug users who may threaten workplace safety.