Trends in Cannabis Testing for Employers

April 22, 2022

By Eric Altstadter

As employers continue to struggle recruiting and retaining employees and states across the U.S. lift their restrictions on cannabis use, many companies are considering lifting pre-existing drug-testing polices when hiring.

According to a 2021 study from staffing company ManpowerGroup, nine percent of the 45,000 employers surveyed reported they were eliminating their drug screening programs as an incentive to attract employees.

Regardless of a state’s legislation pertaining to cannabis legalization for recreational or medical use, the practice of drug screening remains legal for any employer due to the drug’s classification at the federal level as a Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act.

Amazon, which has over one million employees in the United States alone, announced in June 2021 that it would be adjusting its drug testing policy. The major retail company stated their reasoning in a press release updating on their goal to become of the world’s best and safest employers.

“In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use. However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course. We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use.”

While companies like Amazon may be lifting restrictions, some are still hesitant about the issue. First Advantage and Current Consulting Group published a survey in October 2021 of employer drug testing methodology changes because of COVID-19. The U.S.-based employee screening and background testing company reported that when employers stopped drug testing in the transportation industry, post-accident positivity rates jumped 74% from 2019 to 2020. This is opposed to companies that did not remove their drug screening practices only seeing an increase of 17%.

As cannabis continues to grow as an industry and legislation develops throughout the U.S., employers will keep a close eye on this trend. Ultimately, the decision to administer drug screening for THC continues to be up to the employer.

About Eric Altstadter

Eric Altstadter CPA is an Audit Partner and Chair of the firm's Cannabis and Hemp practice with over 30 years of experience working with public companies and privately held businesses