Marijuana, alcohol, and stupid corporate policies

From Wonkblog:

Workers at McLane drive forklifts and load hefty boxes into trucks. The grocery supplier, which runs a warehouse in Colorado, needs people who will stay alert — but prospective hires keep failing drug screens.

“Some weeks this year, 90 percent of applicants would test positive for something,” ruling them out for the job, said Laura Stephens, a human resources manager for the company in Denver. 

The state’s unemployment rate is already low — 3 percent, compared to 4.7 percent for the entire nation. Failed drug tests, which are rising locally and nationally, further drain the pool of eligible job candidates.

“Finding people to fill jobs,” Stephens said, “is really challenging.”

Job applicants are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine and heroin at the highest rate in 12 years, according to a new report from Quest Diagnostics, a clinical lab that follows national employment trends. An analysis of about 10 million workplace drug screens from across the country in 2016 found positive results from urine samples increased from 4 percent in 2015 to 4.2 percent in 2016.

The most significant increase was in positive tests for marijuana, said Barry Sample, the scientist who wrote the report. Positive tests for the drug reached 2 percent last year, compared with 1.6 percent in 2012.

Although state laws have relaxed over the past four years, employers haven’t eased up on testing for pot, even where it’s legal.

You know what they are not testing for?  Alcohol.  A drug that virtually every scientist who studies drugs and addiction thinks is more problematic than alcohol.  Should you operate a forklift while high on marijuana?  Hell no.  Should you operate a forklift if you smoked a joint the previous night?  I cannot see any reason why not.  Nobody stops you from operating that forklift if you had a six-pack or bottle of wine the previous night.

Why can’t companies just use a little common-sense.  If drug use interferes with your job; no job.  If it doesn’t, what the problem?  What’s really dumb is the blanket assumption that any non-alcohol drug use should prevent you from having a job.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

3 Responses to Marijuana, alcohol, and stupid corporate policies

  1. Nicole K says:

    I wonder how this applies to medical marijuana. When I take a drug test, I test positive for amphetamine. I then provide proof it is prescribed and I pass the test. Somehow I doubt doubt that would work with medical marijuana.

    I suspect, in the case of operating heavy machinery, that companies’ hands may be tied. Their insurance probably requires the drug testing. I know that when there is a workplace accident the first thing they want to do is a drug test. Worker’s comp won’t pay if you fail. This is true despite the fact that drug screens aren’t proof that you were under the influence at the time of the incident. This is especially true with marijuana. You can fail a test months after smoking pot. Most other drugs have a window of 24-72 hours before they are completely eliminated, but THC is fat soluble so traces linger on for months.

  2. Big Teddy says:

    Politicians allow drug testing because of “safety”, but shouldn’t the politicians themselves be drug tested then? They have an enormous amount of responsibility. Decisions they make can be life and death for thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people.
    Yet many go out and have alcohol for lunch, or any other drug at any time and the public will never know. Just another case of them passing laws that effect others but not themselves.
    Never themselves.

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