Marijuana legalization efforts raise questions over pre-employment drug tests

Back during the Reagan Administration in the 1980s, a federal statue was passed that required employers to conduct pre-employment tests for marijuana.

But today, marijuana isn’t broadly viewed as the gateway drug it once was, with some states legalizing it entirely and most others legalizing it for medical use. Recreational use varies by state, as does the effort to decriminalize it. 

When it comes to testing for the drug, however, it will be illegal to do so prior to employing someone beginning January 1, 2020 in Nevada, unless the job involves positions where safety is critical. New York City established a similar ordinance in April which goes into effect May 2020.

Like Nevada, specific job positions involving safety will still be required to get tested, including jobs that mandate a commercial driver’s license or involve supervising children, medical patients or vulnerable people. 

But the issue will likely become a nation-wide one, as marijuana is still an illegal substance in some states. According to the Chicago Tribute, eve in a jurisdiction that has put an end to pre-employment marijuana testing, an employee could be fired for using marijuana.

Meanwhile, in Connecticut and New Jersey, pre-employment drug testing is still a requirement.