The Jungle Weed – Navigating The Drug Free Workplace

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 16, 2016 in Job Search, Lessons Learned |

WeedsEmployers who advertise a drug free work place will likely have drug testing in place as a condition of hire. With the legalization of marijuana in several states, this has caused some confusion for job seekers.

There are many kinds of drug tests that are administered for pre-employment checks. The drug test form will ask for all the medications you are taking so have a full list with the proper dosage information handy. If you have a prescription, you need to list it on the form. This should be done for ANY medication you take regularly or frequently. If it is prescribed, and it turns up in your test, your employer will consult their personnel policies when determining whether or not they will hire you based upon their established guidelines.

Some states border others, like in MD, VA and DC, so be mindful of what is legal in each jurisdiction when applying for work. Even if your state has a legalized marijuana policy, the federal government still lists marijuana as a controlled (illegal) substance. Federal laws take precedence over state laws especially if the company that you are applying to is a national or multi-state corporation or if that employer receives any kind of federal funding. This means that a company could still deny you employment for testing positive for marijuana even if marijuana is legal in your state and even if it is being used medicinally with a prescription.

Where we have advised job seekers to be forthright about criminal convictions in the application process, it is not a good idea to overshare about drug use. If you have questions about the company’s policy, ask them anonymously BEFORE you apply. Asking during the process may be detrimental to your application depending on the company, who you speak with, and them not fully understanding your personal situation. Try to get a person on the phone to discuss it vs webchat which may track your email and contact information.

If you pass the initial drug test to be employed, workplaces with a drug-free policy may do intermittent, random, and/or “reasonable suspicion” testing so if you are a prescription holder for marijuana, testing positive for the drug while you are currently employed- even if used off of company property and on your own time- can be cause for dismissal in a drug free workplace.

As more states legalize marijuana, more employers have to take a closer look at their hiring practices and policies. As you navigate the jungle, stay away from the weeds if you can avoid it.

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