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Some companies look to drop marijuana testing for new hires

Marijuana Legalization
Posted at 8:25 AM, Sep 30, 2021

(WXYZ) — Amazon changed the way many people do business, going from local shops to click and order. Now, the company is stopping marijuana drug testing for new applicants.

It's expected to be a game-changer in how businesses attract new employees during the worker shortage we've experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon is treating marijuana use like alcohol while off the job. If you drive a truck or fly a plane, you'll be tested because of Department of Transportation regulations, and you'll be tested if there's an accident in the workplace.

The second-largest company in the U.S. recognized that there's an increasing number of states, including Michigan, that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, making the pre-employment drug screening difficult.

In the U.S., people are on both sides of the fence.

"It's a gray area. If I was running a company, I would rather have all my employees not too," Omar White told us.

But others, like Justin Strekal, the political director for Norml, a national marijuana advocacy group, says reform change is needed.

"This is about how we implement public policies and how can the private sector implement workplace policies that don't arbitrarily capriciously discriminate against individuals or otherwise law-abiding productive American citizens," Strekal said.

UAW local officials in Flint say they've had a problem finding new hires for the assembly line, and they said the solution is simple: stop testing for marijuana and raise the minimum wage.

In a statement, GM said, "GM is discussing this topic internally and we have no further comment at this time."

Michigan is one of 16 states and Washington, D.C., where recreational marijuana use is legal, and is one of 36 states where medical marijuana use is legal.

Attorney John Birmingham, who represents a network of national auto suppliers, says he wouldn't be surprised if GM does take away pre-employment drug screening for marijuana.

"As more states provide some protection for people who smoke marijuana, I think companies like General Motors will have to adjust their policies as a consequence of that," Birmingham said.

Cannabis can stay in your system for up to 30 days. Most legal lawsuits against employers, Birmingham said, are over the accuracy of the test.

Since it stays in the system so long that's one of the reasons why companies have been backing away from it," he said. "It's very difficult to tell when did the person use marijuana, or did it really affect them? Does it have any impact on their job performance?"