Legalization of Marijuana Spreads to Oregon

On October 1st, 2015 Oregon became the third State to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.  Colorado and Washington already enacted this legislation.  This is a big step in decriminalizing marijuana usage and possession.  This legalization will cause companies to re-examine their drug screening policies.  Most companies that use drug testing will continue to do so and the question will become what acceptable level of drug use will be allowed.  Testing for recent or substantial use will certainly be a factor in how a drug test result would affect a current or potential employee’s employment.

The legalization of recreational marijuana is a big step from the already legalization of medical marijuana.  This new law will certainly cause confusion with hiring managers (human resources) and companies with already existing drug policies.  This means that employment screening policies will need to be revisited and most likely revised.

It is important to note that the California Supreme Court has ruled that the State’s medical marijuana law applies only to criminal prosecution, not to the workplace.  Currently it is still up to the employer to decide the rules of employment within their company as long as these rules do not break any laws and are consistently enforced.  Further complicating hiring practices is the spread of ban-the-box legislation and the enforcement of discriminatory practices by the EEOC.  Recent movements to reduce or eliminate discrimination in the hiring process has been substantial and many States now have to remove the “do you have a criminal record” question from the job application form.

Despite the huge changes in the USA taken place to reduce discrimination in the hiring process and during employment, it is a fact that many criminal convictions occur or are directly caused by the use of drugs including marijuana and companies have a right to protect their employees and provide them with a safe place to work.  This means that companies should still utilize third party background screening companies to perform criminal background checks and other background checks as part of their employment screening process.  In the end the legalization of marijuana will make companies within the States were its use and possession is legal change their employment screening policies and drug screening policies.

To read more about this subject read recent press release.

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