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

Nellie R. Ortiz

As legal guidelines protecting grownup use of both equally health care and recreational cannabis use unfold, the 2nd-major employer in the U.S. is shifting its tune on drug tests.

In a June web site write-up, Amazon said it “will no longer incorporate cannabis in our detailed drug screening software” for work that are not regulated by the U.S. Office of Transportation. In its place, the enterprise explained it would take care of marijuana use the exact as alcoholic beverages use.

The announcement was shocking inspite of Amazon’s standing as a craze-setter from a business operations perspective, Michael Freimann, partner at Greenspoon Marder, advised HR Dive. But the information could have a “ripple result” on how other employers technique cannabis testing going ahead, he additional, owing to the point that a lot more and a lot more jurisdictions have executed cannabis use legislation.

Currently, 18 states as properly as Washington, D.C., have adopted laws that legalize some form of adult recreational use, in accordance to the Countrywide Meeting of Condition Legislatures. States included to the checklist in 2021 include things like Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Virginia.

Inside of some of these statutes, states have extra provisions that include things like various forms of protections for task applicants’ use of marijuana. In 2019, Nevada became the 1st state to prohibit businesses from refusing to employ job candidates — with exceptions for some roles — on the foundation of a optimistic marijuana test.

This yr, two states followed up with equivalent legal guidelines. In February, New Jersey enacted a regulation stating that businesses may well not refuse to employ the service of and could not take adverse employment steps versus employees since of hashish use or only mainly because of the existence of cannabinoid metabolites in the employee’s bodily fluid that success from perform permitted under state law. In April, neighboring point out New York adopted laws prohibiting employment discrimination towards personnel primarily based on hashish use prior to the starting of or soon after the conlusion of their perform hrs, off the employer’s premises and with out the use of the employer’s products or property.

Amazon is not by yourself in adopting policies that acquire new guidelines into account. Next passage of Virginia’s leisure use laws this yr, the town govt of Norfolk, Virginia, dropped drug testing requirements for a lot of career types, conserve for specified “safety delicate” positions, local news outlet WAVY-Tv set reported.

The solution may perhaps distribute as employers look for uniformity in their drug-screening guidelines amid a fractured lawful landscape, in accordance to Freimann.

“We’re commencing to see a pattern of states having these upcoming actions,” he extra. “Amazon’s announcement is a way to get ahead of the curve.”

But that does not suggest many businesses will drop drug tests requirements entirely, even for cannabis like Amazon, employers will probably will need to keep in area prerequisites for positions controlled by DOT, Freimann said. And numerous states that have legalized recreational use nonetheless permit companies to produce procedures prohibiting that use, irrespective of whether on- or off-duty. Others spell out the potential of businesses to make policies that assist in retaining safe and sound workplaces.

“Basic safety will still be paramount,” Freimann mentioned, introducing that employers across the board may train administrators to discover whether or not an worker is under the influence of hashish, related to alcoholic beverages and other medication. Even in workplaces that moved remote during the pandemic, companies continued drug tests regimens, work legislation professionals previously instructed HR Dive.

Asked how an employer might employ a alter in coverage equivalent to Amazon, Freimann reported HR groups may well require to initial critique their staff handbooks and procedures to ascertain present compliance steps and schooling protocols. From there, businesses can discover which jobs they will keep on screening protocols for, and which kinds they will not.

Off-responsibility perform is possible to be a critical thought “If anyone did occur to do the job and use cannabis recreationally whilst they were off-duty, how are we dealing with that person?” Freimann mentioned.

Additionally, employers want to make sure that the definition of “fair suspicion” within just their insurance policies “is properly-described and recognized” in just the corporation, which include all through teaching, he pointed out. If a supervisor decides an worker is impaired by cannabis use, “they have to articulate why they have reasonable suspicion to do that,” Freimann described.

Documentation is also significant. “Make certain you’re next up verbal conversations or email messages with memos you can place in the file [and] accomplishing things as contemporaneously as feasible,” Freimann claimed.

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