Why Amazon’s updated marijuana drug testing policy could have ‘ripple effect’

Ruth D. Adamson

As rules guarding grownup use of both of those clinical and leisure marijuana use distribute, the 2nd-most significant employer in the U.S. is modifying its tune on drug testing.

In a June blog post, Amazon stated it “will no for a longer period involve marijuana in our complete drug screening plan” for employment that are not regulated by the U.S. Office of Transportation. Rather, the firm said it would treat marijuana use the very same as alcoholic beverages use.

The announcement was astonishing regardless of Amazon’s standing as a pattern-setter from a small business functions standpoint, Michael Freimann, husband or wife at Greenspoon Marder, explained to HR Dive. But the information could have a “ripple outcome” on how other companies solution cannabis tests transferring forward, he included, because of to the simple fact that extra and extra jurisdictions have applied marijuana use laws.

Now, 18 states as properly as Washington, D.C., have adopted rules that legalize some type of grownup leisure use, according to the Nationwide Meeting of Point out Legislatures. States extra to the checklist in 2021 include things like Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Virginia.

Within some of these statutes, states have included provisions that incorporate different forms of protections for career applicants’ use of marijuana. In 2019, Nevada grew to become the very first state to prohibit companies from refusing to use position candidates — with exceptions for some roles — on the basis of a constructive cannabis test.

This calendar year, two states followed up with identical legislation. In February, New Jersey enacted a legislation stating that businesses may not refuse to seek the services of and might not choose adverse work steps from employees for the reason that of hashish use or exclusively because of the presence of cannabinoid metabolites in the employee’s bodily fluid that success from conduct permitted underneath point out regulation. In April, neighboring condition New York adopted laws prohibiting employment discrimination from staff primarily based on hashish use prior to the starting of or right after the conlusion of their operate several hours, off the employer’s premises and without the need of the use of the employer’s equipment or residence.

Amazon is not alone in adopting policies that consider new laws into account. Subsequent passage of Virginia’s recreational use legislation this calendar year, the town authorities of Norfolk, Virginia, dropped drug tests necessities for quite a few career classes, conserve for specific “basic safety sensitive” positions, regional news outlet WAVY-Tv claimed.

The solution may perhaps distribute as companies seek uniformity in their drug-testing insurance policies amid a fractured lawful landscape, according to Freimann.

“We are setting up to see a craze of states using these up coming actions,” he extra. “Amazon’s announcement is a way to get in advance of the curve.”

But that does not indicate a lot of companies will drop drug tests requirements altogether, even for cannabis like Amazon, employers will probable need to have to hold in area specifications for positions regulated by DOT, Freimann mentioned. And a lot of states that have legalized recreational use continue to permit employers to make procedures prohibiting that use, whether on- or off-duty. Others spell out the skill of companies to create policies that help in sustaining risk-free workplaces.

“Safety will nonetheless be paramount,” Freimann reported, including that businesses across the board might coach professionals to recognize no matter whether an worker is underneath the affect of cannabis, equivalent to alcoholic beverages and other medication. Even in workplaces that moved remote throughout the pandemic, employers ongoing drug testing regimens, work regulation industry experts beforehand explained to HR Dive.

Asked how an employer could carry out a transform in plan similar to Amazon, Freimann said HR teams may will need to initially overview their employee handbooks and insurance policies to establish present compliance measures and instruction protocols. From there, employers can establish which positions they will proceed testing protocols for, and which types they will not.

Off-responsibility perform is probably to be a important thought “If another person did occur to get the job done and use marijuana recreationally though they had been off-responsibility, how are we dealing with that human being?” Freimann reported.

Also, businesses require to make sure that the definition of “fair suspicion” within their insurance policies “is effectively-described and recognized” in the organization, like all through schooling, he noted. If a supervisor determines an worker is impaired by cannabis use, “they have to articulate why they have fair suspicion to do that,” Freimann spelled out.

Documentation is also important. “Make positive you happen to be next up verbal conversations or e-mails with memos you can set in the file [and] accomplishing factors as contemporaneously as feasible,” Freimann said.

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