Drug Tests without THC
New Slate of Drug Testing Panels that Exclude Marijuana
The time has come, folks. Marijuana is now legal for medical use or recreational use in the majority of the states in the USA, yet employers nationwide can still legally refuse to hire someone for using THC at home, on their own time, legally, and even if they have a valid prescription. Nothing about marijuana drug testing makes sense any more.
In response to the marijuana legalization movement sweeping the nation, Health Street announced this week that it was rolling out a full slate of employment drug testing panels that do not allow the employer to see whether or not the applicant used marijuana at all.
Why Are We Offering Drug Tests Without Weed?
The rapidly changing and confusing landscape of marijuana laws has vastly increased the complexity and confusion among employees and employers about appropriate drug testing rules. People may legally take THC with a prescription in most but not all states, and recreationally in the handful of states that have decriminalized marijuana altogether, only to be denied their dream job in a neighboring state. Some localities, such as New York City and the State of Nevada, have recently passed laws prohibiting employers from including THC on pre-employment drug tests altogether. On the other hand, the U.S. government still lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with no accepted medical usage whatsoever.
We keep hearing from employers who are deeply and understandably confused. They’re having trouble adjusting their employee screening protocols to keep up with the changing laws and cultural norms surrounding cannabis use, but they’re cognizant that it is still illegal to use THC at the federal level or in their state. They don’t want to run afoul of the law or discriminate against an employee who is using THC legally, but they don’t know how to navigate this.
Why Employer Drug Testing Needs to Adhere to Local Legalization Laws
As of this release’s publish date, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana usage for those with a valid prescription. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized reasonable amounts of marijuana use for adult recreational purposes, which do not require a prescription or the existence of a medical condition approved for cannabis-related treatment.
Employers are more cognizant than ever for the need to comply with non-discrimination statutes and fairly evaluate individuals based only on the information they are legally allowed to review, lest they find themselves the subject of a lawsuit. But how best to do that is causing much consternation.
There are some clear cut areas where there is no confusion and THC still needs to be included in all drug tests, for example: employers hiring jobs governed by federal law or jobs that include driving or other safety sensitive functions still need to administer traditional drug test panels. But what about libraries and coffee shops? Should they be allowed to turn someone down for a job who uses THC legally? What if it’s legal sometimes, such as when they travel to another state, but not in the state of the employer? What if they only use marijuana at home, and not on the job?
Though there are a handful of other marijuana-free drug test options on the market already, Health Street’s offerings differentiate themselves with their scope and thoroughness. While most prior options offered only the choice to exclude cannabis testing from a traditional 5 Panel Drug Test, Health Street’s announcement heralds the ability for employers to create fully custom drug tests that keep all of their regional needs — from marijuana legalization to opioid crisis concerns and beyond — top of mind.
Health Street’s drug testing panels that can be customized to exclude THC are:
The Growing Need for Cannabis-Free Drug Tests
The trend of introducing increasingly lax marijuana-use statutes shows no signs of slowing. Colorado and Washington approved adult-use recreational marijuana measures in 2012. Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia followed suit in fall of 2014, with Ohio close behind in 2015.
The trend then began to snowball with California, Maine, Massacusetts and Nevade approving adult-use recreational marijuana in 2016, Michigan and Vermont legalizing in 2018, and the Illinois General Assembly passing a 2019 act that will soon make cannabis use legal in the Prairie State as well.
An additional 21 states currently have bills on the table that may lead to recreational cannabis legalization in their near future. In addition, some cities are getting in on the action if they deem their state-wide legislature too slow-moving. For example, starting next year, New York City job seekers will no longer need to worry about testing positive for marijuana, as the city has recently passed a bill making it illegal to turn down a job candidate because of their previous marijuana use.
As employers seek ways to adhere to these changing statutes while complying with workplace safety protocols, partnering with a drug screening provider that understands region and industry-specific testing needs and proactively creates products that accommodate them will become an increasingly imperative step in protecting employers and employees alike.
Partnering with Health Street for No THC Drug Panels
Health Street offers drug testing at over 5000 locations nationwide, as well as on-site testing services for employers looking to test 10 or more individuals at once. Their comprehensive suite of testing services has been developed based on decades of experience overseeing industry-specific testing requirements and up-to-the-minute knowledge of evolving drug legislature. All of Health Street’s lab-based tests are reviewed by a certified Medical Review Officer (MRO) prior to the release of results, further minimizing error and potential employer liability.