Updated on August 27, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
You are scrolling through the advertisement on the job board, and then you see it; the dreaded pre-employment drug test. Or worse, an expectation of drug testing before you are hired, and then randomly as long as you remain employed with the company.
In 2019, Glassdoor reported that an average of 2.4% of jobs required pre-employment drug tests. But the rate varies depending on the region. During that survey, Arlington, Texas, for example, was found to have a 7% rate of employee drug testing. While New York City had 0.46% of advertised jobs that indicated the requirement for a drug test.
But that was before COVID-19. And before a mass percentage of the global workforce moved to a WFH (work from home) situation. A necessary accommodation to help protect the health and well-being of employees. And to prevent outbreaks from taking 100% of your staff out of commission, leaving your business inoperable. A real threat for companies worldwide, which sparked the WFH contingency.
Now employees work from home. They enjoy financial, and work/life balance benefits they never realized were possible before WFH became the norm. And companies have worked through the problems of adjusting to remote staff.
Many Americans say they will not go back into the office. And if they are a patient with a medical card, that could also mean self-medicating during business hours. They are also looking for employers who will offer them a permanent work-from-home opportunity. And a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy about using cannabis for medicinal needs during the workday.
A High Number of Americans Are Still Working from Home
People want to work from home for a variety of reasons. For some, it means saving both time and money on a commute. You are freed from fatigue when you don’t have to travel an hour or more on the highway. The persistent kind of tiredness that only commuters understand. It’s life-changing to go from being a commuter to working from home. And that energy that used to go to an exhausting commute can be allocated elsewhere.
Some studies suggest that working from home could make us healthier. And when you think about it, the idea starts to make sense. Suddenly, you are not racing to work or making bad food decisions on the way. Donuts and coffee? No way. You’ve got time for eggs and avocado toast. And balanced meals make a big difference when it comes to personal wellness.
An estimated 41% of Americans are still working from home. The number was declining through the summer as companies started to welcome employees back to the office. But with the spike in COVID-19 infection rates (equal to or greater than 2020 in some regions), it seems like we might be working from home for a long time.
If you don’t have to go anywhere and are socially distancing and working from home, can you use cannabis medicinally during the day? There is no risk of impaired driving. And small amounts of cannabis may make employees more productive by managing stress, anxiety, and pain symptoms.
Read: “The Blunt Truth About Weed and Working from Home.”
Not Everyone That Uses Cannabis Wants to Get Impaired
There is a misconception rooted in propaganda that goes way back to 1930s America. There are a few of them. But one of the most common stereotypes about people who consume cannabis is that they become impaired.
What is impaired? Think back to college. Impaired was you sitting on a couch, staring at the reflection of your face on the television. Impaired wanted to eat something but felt like the fridge was too far away, so you took a nap instead. We’ve all been there and done that. And it’s not always fun.
When you are cannabis-impaired, it’s hard to hide it. Only the very seasoned Tokers can sometimes pull off sober behavior. Partly because they have the experience to know how much to smoke to get to the psychoactive level they want. The same way many adults know how many alcoholic drinks they can consume without becoming ‘you’re taking an Uber home’ level of intoxication.
Experienced Cannabis Users Know Their Limit
People who have been consuming cannabis for a long time know what strains work for them. For example, if you want to ‘go stealth’ because your mother-in-law is coming over, you will choose your weed wisely.
You might bypass strains that have to give you the telltale “smiling” face and perma-grin. Or the kinds of cannabis that can make you laugh uncontrollably or eat everything in the fridge. You may even opt for a scent-free edible that lasts for 4-6 hours and takes the edge off without making you feel impaired.
Impairment is usually not the objective of using cannabis for someone with a medical card. It is to provide a medicinal benefit. Whether that means taking your anxiety level from a Defcon 1 back to a Defcon 3? There are strains for that. Or making your knee or back pain more tolerable? There are many strains that could help.
So, the probability of a WFH employee sitting around with a bong and watching cooking shows all day on company time is probably pretty low. After all, it’s not hard to monitor an employee’s productivity. And to notice if it is being impacted because they work from home. And might be hitting a chillum if the day gets stressful. A quick puff of the right strain could actually enhance your employee’s stress management skills. And definitely their mood.
Do People Use Weed at Work? Legalities of Being High During the Workday
There may be a few obstacles to acquiring some real data on this question. First of all, who is going to admit that they use cannabis during working hours? That seems like a great way to get fired. So respondents to any survey about cannabis use are likely to be skewed.
On AmericanMarijuana.org you’ll find results from a survey of 1,001 employees conducted in 2020. It was the start of the COVID-19 health emergency, and professionals were being sent home to work remotely.
Some of the key takeaways from that survey of remote employees included:
36.1% worked for companies that allowed after-work use of cannabis
35.3% altogether forbade employees from using cannabis
53.6% of employers did not drug test at all
The survey stated that as many as 38% of companies had changed their drug testing policy during the pandemic. It may have been an employee retention strategy for some. And a crackdown for others.
How Many Remote Employed Americans Are Using Cannabis During the Workday?
It seems a lot changed in one year when you compare some of the data from Glassdoor and the American Marijuana survey. There were some other surprising revelations from the American Marijuana survey.
Just over 40% of employees surveyed said they stopped using marijuana during working hours at home. More than 63% of respondents said they did not use cannabis during daytime hours. And only 36.8% of American employees said they regularly got high on company time.
The researchers thought that the social distancing protocols might have been the reason. Many families worked from home, and children were homeschooled. That would make it harder for the individual to indulge.
Age of Employees That Smoke Cannabis While Working From Home
Age and what you do for a living is also a factor. Over 41% of respondents aged 20-29 stated that they used cannabis during the workday. While only 29.8% of remote employees aged 50 or older did.
About 45% of white-collar professionals admitted to working under the influence of cannabis. While only 21.6% of blue-collar employees did. Management also admitted to using cannabis during work hours. There were 34.7% of respondents that were supervisors or managers.
Which Occupations Will Always Employer Test for Cannabis Use?
The jobs that involve public safety or commercial vehicles or equipment will always require random drug testing. The reason is that the risk of accidents and injury is higher. And insurance rates are higher for businesses that operate with heavy equipment or transportation vehicles.
In order to fight the increasing costs of commercial business insurance, companies have to prove they are taking precautions. And one of those preventative methods is to randomly test employees for drug use. Individuals who have a professional certification such as a CDL (commercial driver’s license) are also required to submit to random testing. And they can lose their commercial license if they test positive.
Jobs That Require Drug Screening
Other occupations that will always have a random drug testing or pre-employment screening requirement include:
Employees that work with vulnerable populations in any capacity generally have a drug testing requirement. That means orderlies, medical assistants, daycare workers, or anyone who works with adults or children who require assistive care.
How to Find a Company That Doesn’t Test for Cannabis
The pandemic has changed the way we live and work. Without warning, companies had to adapt and transition employees to work remotely. Now, over a year later, many organizations state that they haven’t seen a lapse in productivity. Some companies are saving more money with remote workers. And employees are feeling pretty happy too.
Random drug testing catches patients with a medical card in an uncomfortable situation. They have legal rights to use medical marijuana for their health condition. And tests don’t prove when the employee used cannabis. At lunch? Or before bed?
Some states like New York have implemented employee protections. Other states are discussing it right now. How patients with a medical card could be exempt from punitive action (suspension or termination) for using medical marijuana. If the employee’s job fits within a lower risk category.
Filter Your Job Search Results on Indeed and Other Sites
Major job search sites like Indeed.com have a filter to help you search. Type “No Drug Test,” and you’ll see opportunities that involve drug testing. Either randomized drug screening of employees or pre-employment testing. You can also use a search query for “No Drug Test Remote” on Indeed to find a WFH position and eliminate companies that require mandatory testing.
Favorite or save the job postings that fit your needs as a medical cardholder. Most job listings that mention drug tests are disclosures that you will be required to complete one. But some companies are starting to list “no drug tests” on job profiles.
It’s probably a very effective tool for recruitment. Particularly during the era of COVID-19.