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Companies updating drug-testing policies

California is currently one of nine states (plus the District of Columbia) that legalized recreation use of marijuana. Yet there are dozens more that have decriminalized it or allow the use of medical marijuana.

Not surprisingly, businesses are reevaluating their drug testing policies with help of attorneys to accommodate the changes in law as well as the evolving thinking on marijuana use. According to a recent article in the Associated Press, some companies are quietly removing marijuana from list of drugs tested for before hiring new employees whether they say so or not. Some businesses with employees in California and other states where the drug is now legal will even go so far as to state that the drug is not being tested for.

Thin employment pool also a factor

Because of the robust job market, businesses are also being forced to change their thinking because of the difficulty in filling certain jobs, particularly those involving third shift. High-labor industries like hospitality, health care, warehousing and light manufacturing are the companies feeling this squeeze.

Liability still an issue

However, just as construction sites and other workplaces with heavy machinery may still test for alcohol use on the job, it can be prudent for employers to maintain some rules for marijuana use in circumstances where it could impact work performance or endanger fellow workers.

Drug testing first began after the federal government enacted the Drug-Free Workplace Act in 1988. While this initially applied to all businesses that had contracts with the government, Fortune 500 companies and many others adopted some form of drug testing. Businesses, nonetheless, need to be mindful of overstepping the rights of employees. An experienced attorney can ensure that new polices and updating older ones are legal under current laws.