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Cannabis in the Workplace - Risks, Do's & Don'ts, and the Law!

Marijuana laws seem to be constantly evolving. While cannabis remains completely illegal on a federal level in the United States, nearly every state in the union has adopted legislation to legalize at least some form of the plant. With all these dissonant laws that seem to stay in a constant state of flux, it can be difficult for companies and human resource departments to get a handle on what is and isn’t allowed at the workplace. The same can be said for the workers themselves. Use this guide as a compass to help navigate the dynamic cannabis laws in your workplace. 

Cannabis in the Workplace - Risks, Do's & Dont's, and the law!
Drug Testing 

Even though marijuana may be legal in your state, it’s still not a great idea to hit the bong before your job interview. Regardless of state-level legality, many workplaces continue to drug test their employees and potential applicants.

Office drug testing is so commonplace in the United States that you may think the practice is deeply rooted in our culture. However, workplace drug testing has not been around as long as you may think. It wasn’t until Ronal Reagan, in an attempt to demonstrate his commitment to fighting the “War on Drugs,” issued an executive order in the 1980s, making drug screening mandatory for all federal employees that the practice became widespread. 

For the most part, workplace drug screening is still a mainstream staple of the American employment landscape; however, that may be changing. Nevada recently passed legislation that protects applicants who pop positive for cannabis from being denied employment. State Lawmakers found it unfair that citizens could be discriminated against while still following the state laws. The legislation does not attempt to make consuming cannabis during work hours or on company premises a non-terminable offense. Employers can still prohibit onsite usage. The law also makes broad exceptions for employers who claim they are hiring for safety positions like truck drivers and first responders.

New York City also adopted a similar measure that took effect in May of 2020. 

If you are someone who is currently seeking employment and is unsure about the laws governing drug tests, here are some tips to help you land that job.


  • Assume you will be screened for cannabis. Drug tests are the countrywide norm, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Check your local and state laws. The rules change depending on where you are job seeking. 
  • Ask your potential employer. This will always get you a straight answer. Asking other company employees is also a good idea. 
  • Give yourself ample time to pass a drug screening. Marijuana can stay in your system for over thirty days. Some people choose to purchase drug tests from their local pharmacy to test themselves before going in to take their official screening.


  • Assume you won’t have to take a drug test. Just because cannabis is legal in your area, doesn’t mean that employers necessarily won’t screen you. 
  • Continue consuming Marijuana. Cannabis can stay in your system for up to thirty days in some cases, so you’ll want to leave your body plenty of time to detox. 
  • Trust detox beverages or pills. These formulas are often ineffective and hard on the body. Tricks like taking copious amounts of niacin do not help you pass drug screenings.
  • Assume that just because you’ve passed the pre-employment drug screening that you won’t be subjected to future drug tests. Many employers have policies that allow them to conduct drug tests if there has been an accident, or if they feel like an employee’s performance has been slipping. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of your particular workplace. Most offices have an employee handbook that outlines these regulations in clear language. 


Consuming Cannabis On The Clock
Once you’ve landed your gig, it may be tempting to show to work after smoking a joint or ripping a fat dab, especially if you live in a state that has legalized recreational use. However, this is usually a bad idea. Marijuana can impair motor and brain function, and in every state, employers have the discretion to terminate employees who are caught working while stoned. Think about it like alcohol. It may be fine for you to imbibe once you get off work, but drinking on the job is generally frowned upon.

Your office may be an exception. If you work at a dispensary, grow, or headshop, it may be perfectly acceptable to bring your oil vaporizer pen and toke away while on the clock. However, this is not the norm, and it’s always important to check with your employer or get a feel for the workplace culture first.

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