How does decriminalizing marijuana affect drug screenings?

Movement towards decriminalizing, but in many cases not fully legalizing, cannabis took the country by storm in 2020. In these cases, marijuana remains illegal, but possession of small amounts is not prosecuted. So, what does this mean for drug screenings in an instant background check?

America saw a green wave sweep the country, with voters in three states – Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey – approving recreational marijuana and Mississippi voters supporting medical marijuana. Voters in South Dakota advanced laws that legalize both medical and recreational marijuana. While this adds to a confusing patchwork of legislation for employers, none of these new laws impact drug testing.

Even Utah’s medical marijuana law was amended to clarify that private employers are not required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana, are permitted to conduct drug screening for marijuana, and allows employers to implement zero-tolerance policies against marijuana use at the workplace or while on the job. 

In states where Marijuana is still illegal, it’s the most common charge drug charge. For Retail and Financial Services, 82.3% of positive drug test results were for marijuana, followed by Staffing at 81.4%, Transportation at 73.4% and Healthcare at 59.9%.

However, screening for other drug offenses is still a requirement in many industries. Drug offense rates affect retail the most, according to the First Advantage’s Vertical Trends & Insights fourth report, focused on the retail, transportation, staffing, healthcare, and financial services.

Amphetamines come in second for all other industries except Transportation. Cocaine came in second for that industry and tied with amphetamines for Staffing. Interestingly, Healthcare had the highest positivity rates of all other industries for amphetamines (11.9%), cocaine (9.6%) and opiates (7.1%).

Unfortunately, the Report also revealed several significant gaps in background screening for temporary workers. This is a huge miss as drug abusers are 3.6 X more likely to be involved in a workplace accident and 5 X more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim. Jeopardizing the safety of other volunteers and coworkers. 

In fact, only 48% of survey respondents that use contingent workers said that they conduct background checks on the workers. That means that more than half of contingent workers are hired without screening for criminal drug charges. This poses a significant risk to many employers. Use FedCheck to have the power of an instant background check at your fingertips.

It should be up to your discrepancy on what types of drug charges you want to screen for. Solutions like FedCheck can easily, and instantly, filter through the types of drug offenses you care about. Whether it’s marijuana possession or selling prescription drugs, you have the power to choose what to screen for. 

As we saw in 2020, marijuana reform and accommodation will undoubtedly continue to progress, causing drug screening to take a shift. More than half of all states have adopted a form of law that protects certain marijuana users, contrary to federal law.  Absent federal decriminalization and eventual legalization, states will continue to legislate at the will of their people.