Weed usage should be protected from business drug testing

By Jack Baudoin, Lifestyle writer

Now that marijuana is legal in Illinois, there is a concern regarding employment. How will business’ drug-testing policies affect employees who use marijuana? Because marijuana is now legal, using it should be the same as going home and drinking a beer. There is a large number of businesses in Illinois that do not drug test, but the ones that do are considering whether they will continue checking for marijuana usage.

Even though marijuana has been legalized in Illinois, it is still illegal at the federal level, which will dictate whether national companies continue to drug test their employees. These employers will take action against employees that test positive on drug tests due to this, according to a May 31 Chicago Tribune article.

If a company is based in Illinois, this should not be a problem due to the fact that it is legal in the state. There are ways that companies are working around the federal law.

The already-passed Rights to Privacy in the Workplace Act only allows employers to drug test workers if they are showing signs of impairment at work. This is nothing new, as being impaired at work has always been something employers want to avoid.

A section of the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act amends the Rights to Privacy in the Workplace Act to protect workers from being discriminated against for using marijuana while not at work, just as workers can drink alcohol while they are at home. Because marijuana is now legal, companies should not be able to penalize workers who test positive for previous marijuana usage while they are sober at work.

This is an effective system. Employees should be able to partake in these legal activities at home without having to worry about losing their jobs. The Rights to Privacy in the Workplace Act allows this to happen.

As long as marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, there will be concern from workers over drug testing. Now that it is legal in the state, this should not be the case, as it is not the case for drinking alcohol when not on the job. Times are changing, and it is time for laws on drug testing to change as well.