John Thomas Quoted in Law360 on Marijuana Testing in the Workplace

April 26, 2022

Law360 quoted McGuireWoods partner John Thomas in an April 14, 2022, story that examined how state laws legalizing marijuana complicate workplace drug-testing policies.

The story cited a recent Quest Diagnostics report that positive marijuana tests in the U.S. workforce have increased by 50 percent over the past five years. The increase is attributed to state-level efforts to destigmatize, decriminalize and legalize cannabis for medical or recreational use.

Thomas, a labor and employment partner in Tysons, Virginia, and member of the firm’s cannabis, hemp and CBD group, addressed questions about how drug-testing policies for “safety-sensitive” positions could be affected.

Thomas explained that safety-sensitive positions are not subject to consistent definition among the states.  He explained this inconsistency causes employer to struggle with adjusting workplace cannabis policies.

Employers want to avoid workplace incidents that could be caused by a worker under the influence, Thomas said.

“Most employers with a large population of safety-sensitive positions still want to maintain as much of a zero-tolerance policy as they can when it comes to cannabis use,” he said.

But Thomas said attitudes are changing in industries with fewer safety-sensitive jobs, partly because of a tight labor market and fierce competition for workers. In light of these factors, he explained, many businesses are now putting more pressure on recruiters and re-thinking whether off-duty cannabis use is disqualifying.