Medical marijuana is now legal in Florida, and that means employers will now have to decide how to treat drug testing and positive results. Increasing availability and usage means that positive drug tests will likely go up, and Florida lawmakers have given employers the go-ahead to continue zero-tolerance policies if desired. How employers actually treat the situation will, for the most part, be an individual company decision except in certain circumstances.
Presence vs. Impairment
One of the more frustrating aspects of dealing with medical marijuana use on the job is that a positive test result doesn’t necessarily indicate impairment. Employees could use medical marijuana only occasionally and still get a positive drug test result even if it’s been several days since their last use of the drug.
Employers need to decide how they will handle positive results from someone who does not appear to be impaired, or someone who can verify that it’s been days or weeks since their last actual use of the drug. Will they enforce zero tolerance? Will they allow those who claim they haven’t used the drug in a while to continue to work?
Federal and State Requirements
Florida’s laws prohibit the operation of any vehicle (of any type) while using medical marijuana. To avoid potential legal issues, it may be best to either enforce zero tolerance with medical users in these jobs or move the users to jobs that do not require the use of a vehicle, power tool, or anything else that could be a danger.
Certain job sectors also rely on federal funding, and these companies may be best off enforcing zero tolerance because marijuana use is still technically illegal on the federal level.
Individual Company Choice
Then, there are those companies that simply do not want to have employees who use any sort of drug that isn’t FDA-approved. Florida law does allow these companies to continue to test for marijuana and to continue to let go those employees who test positive even if they aren’t showing signs of impairment. Marijuana’s status as federally prohibited has been used as a legal backdrop for allowing companies to continue to prohibit use of the drug, even in medical circumstances.
If your company has any job duties that require a person not use substances that could lead to impairment, it would be best to continue to include marijuana on drug test panels. For other companies, though, it will depend on what image the company wants to project and what work environment the company wants to provide. Luckily, in Florida, employers still have the flexibility to choose which way to go.