To Test or Not to Test for Drugs

To Test or Not to Test for Drugs

By Christopher A. Parrella, J.D., CHC, CPC, CPCO

With the number of states legalizing marijuana on the rise, many people are wondering whether the company they work for, or want to work for, will continue to test for its use as a condition of employment.

The short answer: It depends. Although individual states are legalizing marijuana either for medical or recreational use, it continues to be illegal under federal law. Under the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means that the federal government views cannabis as highly addictive and having no medical value. However, President Trump recently indicated he will support a congressional effort to end the federal ban, leaving the question up to individual states.

To make it even more confusing, some states are looking to implement laws to protect employee’s rights regarding marijuana use by prohibiting employers from discriminating against workers who use marijuana outside of the workplace.

Employers in safety-sensitive industries such as manufacturing, transportation and healthcare, are more likely to continue requiring drug screening tests. Other industries are dropping marijuana screening, but continue to test for opiates, cocaine, heroin and other drugs. Most private employers use their own discretion when it comes to drug screening.

As laws continue to change, companies should make sure they have drug and alcohol policies in place, or update the ones they have, by including the following:

  • Prohibit the use, possession and sale of any drugs on company property.
  • Prohibit employees from being under the influence of drugs/alcohol while at work as this could put other employees at risk, not to mention create legal problems for the company.
  • Advise employees that the company reserves the right to conduct drug screening, as well as conduct searches of workstations.
  • Advise employees of how drug testing works, when it may be required, and what steps will be taken if a test is positive or if an employee declines to take a test.
  • Create an Employee Assistance Program.

Nearly 21 million Americans are living with substance use disorder, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Three-quarters of those struggling with addiction to alcohol, pain medication, marijuana and other substances are employed.

Urinalysis is the only approved drug-testing method for workplaces covered by federal guidelines. It’s easy to collect and can be screened for many illicit drugs, as well as prescription medications.

Substance abuse is a serious problem impacting the lives of not just those who use, but also their families, friends, employers and co-workers. Innovative Laboratory Solutions, the maker of the EZ Test Cup, has 20-plus years of manufacturing experience behind it. Our standard cups come with a built-in thermometer and test for the following drugs: Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, Opiates, Oxycodone, Methadone, Amphetamines, Barbiturates, PCP, MDA, MET and BZO. Custom cups also are available. Contact us today for more information at or call 561-218-4646.