One of the major priorities outlined by the 2018-2019 DATIA Board of Directors was “to work to define an impairment level for marijuana,” as well as to “focus on guidance and legislation surrounding opioids, marijuana.”
“We believe one of the most important responsibilities of the Board of Directors is to listen to our membership. Through careful evaluation of the membership survey data, we have organized an agenda that addresses the most important topics you shared with us,” the announcement stated.
DATIA’s mission is “to provide education, resources, and advocacy to those involved in and interested in drug and alcohol testing.” To get a better idea of the Association’s goals, it is best to take a look at where their money comes from.
Why DATIA Wants Impairment Standards for Cannabis
Essentially, that means that DATIA is backed by a long list of companies that benefit from major employers like corporations and government agencies have and actively enforce a drug and alcohol policy. With the cannabis legalization trend sweeping all across the globe, many employers have recently had to clarify their stance on cannabis consumption.
Cannabis Consumption and Employment
As adult-use cannabis starts on October 17th in Canada, many companies North of the border have needed to jump into action early. Most recently, Air Canada Inc. (TSX:AC) (OTC:ACDVF) altered its drug and alcohol policies to ban the recreational consumption of cannabis products for “safety-critical employees,” whether they’re on or off duty.
Members of the Canadian armed forces on the other hand, are prohibited “from consuming cannabis eight hours before any duty, 24 hours before any operation of weapons or vehicles and 28 days before high altitude parachuting, operating in a hyperbaric environment and serving on a military aircraft,” according to Reuters.
Despite various levels of legalization having already passed all across the U.S., many employees are left silently guessing whether or not cannabis consumption and their continued employment are mutually exclusive.
Earlier this month, a worker for the City of Miami was allegedly fired for cannabis consumption despite the fact that the man has a legal medical marijuana card in Florida. Using state-legalized medical marijuana has not only gotten workers fired, but it has also impacted employment eligibility for others.
Katelyn Noffsinger, a candidate for employment as an Activities Manager at a nursing home in Connecticut, received an employment offer which was contingent upon her passing a pre-employment drug test. When she informed the interviewer that she was a qualified and registered cannabis user under Connecticut’s medical marijuana laws as a part of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, and her pre-employment drug test came back positive for THC, her employment offer was revoked.
Rather than accepting the ultimatum of one or the other, Noffsinger sued SSC Niantic Operating Co. d/b/a Bride Brook Nursing & Rehab Center for violating the Connecticut Palliative Use of Marijuana Act when it revoked Noffsinger’s employment offer based on her status as a lawful medical marijuana user.
Long story short, a federal judge in Connecticut issued a ruling in favor of the medical marijuana user. This is not just a warning to zero-tolerance employers, but also a warning to companies whose policies come in conflict with the laws that have legalized marijuana in their respective jurisdictions.
As employment attorneys Mark J. Neuberger and Angelica L. Boutwell put it, “these policies will increasingly butt up against the tidal wave of laws legalizing the medical and recreational use of marijuana.”
As the coming months unfold, we’ll be watching to see how more Canadian employers handle recreational cannabis legalization. Also, we’ll be watching to see how the recently decided case in Connecticut changes how employers in the Constitution State handle their policies around cannabis consumption.
Lastly, we’ll be looking to see if the case in Connecticut has any impact on how things are handled in other states that have medical marijuana programs. After all, even employers in Colorado, which legalized marijuana back in 2014, still test their employees for marijuana.
Maybe, despite the efforts of DATIA, testing employees for cannabis consumption may become a thing of the past.
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