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It has been a few years since Washington state passed its law legalizing marijuana. Many companies are wondering: Does it still make sense to test for pot?

Interestingly, many companies have considered dropping marijuana from their testing panels. After all, the drug is legal in Washington state.

However, it is important to remember that marijuana is a drug that affects workplace safety. Alcohol, too, is legal to consume, but it’s critical that companies ensure employees are not under the influence of alcohol at work. The same is true of marijuana: Pot may be legal, but being under the influence of marijuana at work can be dangerous.

Ask yourself: What are the dangers to workplace health and safety if someone under the influence of alcohol or marijuana has an accident at our company? Another important question is this: What liability might our company have if someone on marijuana causes an accident but pot isn’t something we test for?

More information: How companies are handling
marijuana testing in light of new rules

Workplace safety and liability are important aspects to consider when deciding what rules to have in place regarding marijuana consumption and testing. Another involves federal responsibility for testing.

Companies that are regulated by the federal Department of Transportation are required to test for marijuana. Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and federal testing laws have not changed. “We want to make it perfectly clear that the state initiatives will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program,” reads the DOT website. “The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40 – does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason.”

The fact remains that marijuana is a dangerous drug. For example, marijuana use has been linked to an increased likelihood of car crashes, and marijuana edibles can increase the danger of drug overdoses.

Bostec’s overall advice is to continue testing for marijuana — after making sure that it’s part of a robust workforce drug policy.

For more information, or for help crafting your own marijuana drug policy or drug-free workplace program, please give Bostec a call. We are based in Whatcom County (in the Lynden/Bellingham area) but work with companies up and down the Interstate 5 corridor, including in Seattle and Tacoma.

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