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Marijuana's complicated place in employment

New Jersey is one of the majority of states that allows marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes. Like most states where medical marijuana is acceptable, New Jersey does not forbid employers from terminating an employee who tests positive. The tide may be turning, however, as more and more states are allowing people to use marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes.

Drug testing

Some jobs will likely always test applicants for marijuana and fire anyone caught using it. Unless further research proves conclusively that marijuana has no impact on driving ability, jobs involving the operation of a vehicle or heavy equipment will likely test applicants for the drug. But for many jobs, the use of marijuana, whether medicinal or recreational, has no more impact than alcohol, cigarettes or other legal activities.

Current marijuana testing does not distinguish between a person currently under the influence and someone who took the drug days or weeks ago. Employers must ask themselves if it is worth it to lose a good employee because he or she needs marijuana to treat a health condition. If employers stop testing for the drug, that could help many employees dealing with medical issues pursue the most effective treatment available to them.

While the voluntary decision to stop testing is beneficial, a better solution would be to protect workers through legislation. A person undergoing chemo should not have to choose between debilitating nausea and the loss of her job. No worker should be put in that position. 

Source: AP News, "More businesses are mellowing out over hiring pot smokers," by Christopher Rugaber, 2 May 2018

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