Employers still have the right to drug test their staff even in states that have legalized recreational or medical cannabis. It is more about whether or not someone can do their job while impaired than it is about the taboo of hiring people that smoke weed. It depends on the nature of the job, as retail at a bookstore and operating a forklift in a warehouse are completely different things.
Amazon began as an online bookstore and quickly grew to become the world’s largest online retailer and the second- largest private employer in the United States. Jeff Bezos launched a fleet of Amazon- branded delivery vans in the year 2018. As a large employer, one must wonder if Amazon tests for drugs.
Employers Still Drug Test?
Drug testing policies are also established and upheld by the state, just like cannabis is legalized at a state level. Some employees in industries that the federal government heavily regulates fall under a different lens of scrutiny when it comes to drug testing. Military members and staff of the U.S. Department of Transportation are included.
Testing by Private Employers
Employers are able to drug test new applicants. The policies and procedures set forth by the state are meant to prevent discrimination and alter test results. Many states require that the employer clearly state that pre-employment testing is mandatory on the job posting. All applicants must take the same type of test and the state- accredited lab must test it.
No applicant is subject to a pre-employment drug test unless they’ve already been offered the job. This is to help prevent discrimination based on test results. Living in a state with legal marijuana does not change the employer’s right to mandate drug testing. However, each employer may decide privately which drugs they test for, meaning they may exclude marijuana from their drug-free workplace policies. Philadelphia is the latest city to pass a law excluding marijuana from pre-employment drug screening.
Drug Testing for Federal Employees
Federal employees are not allowed to use illegal drugs, such as cannabis, at the federal level. Drug testing conditions vary by job role and department, and there is no single policy on the subject. Pre-employment drug testing is almost always required, and random drug testing may be called for when an employer has a reasonable suspicion of drug use.
Someone falling asleep on the job, driving a government vehicle, or any abnormal behavior are examples of reasonable suspicion. For anyone working in a position that involves public safety, this is especially true.
States Without Guidelines
A state that does not have a specific policy around drug testing is known as an ‘open state’. States in this category include: New Hampshire, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Washington, Texas, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, and Massachusetts. While working in a state without a defined policy might sound nice, employees actually have less protection here. States that require drug testing must give advance notice, but open states can test randomly without warning.
It’s also important to note that medical marijuana poses different rules for both open and mandatory testing states. Certain circumstances allow medical marijuana patients to be entirely exempt from testing positive from THC, though this depends heavily on the industry and specific job requirements.
Amazon’s Drug Testing Policy
There is a lot of pot smokers on the staff at Amazon. Amazon is pro-pot and has been pushing for federal legalization for years. In June of 2021, Amazon announced that they would no longer screen applicants for marijuana as a precondition.
Marijuana use outside of work is no longer an issue for anyone looking to work at Amazon, and this doesn’t mean that employees can be impaired on the job. It is possible for a drug test to still be necessary if there is reasonable suspicion on the job.
How Does This Affect Delivery Partners?
Drivers delivering Amazon packages are not employees of Amazon. When Amazon launched its delivery vans, they intended to target entrepreneurs all over the country and lease their vans. The second-party companies would receive support from Amazon, but they would be running their businesses on their own terms. Managing a team of drivers includes hiring and managing.
When Amazon announced their change in drug testing, they urged their delivery partners to follow suit, stating that pre-employment drug testing drops their applicants by 30%. Amazon’s delivery partners are torn on the issue. On the one hand, most applicants who fail drug tests fail because of THC, not cocaine and methamphetamines. On the other hand, there are insurance liabilities to consider for employees with marijuana in their system. Since THC can be found in urinalysis for up to a month, a driver doesn’t need to be stoned on the job to cause issues. If they were to crash their van and injure or kill another person, the company (not the driver) would be liable.
As online sales rise with the ongoing Pandemic, and as holiday shopping increases, new drivers are a top concern for all shipping companies. One way to increase the rates is to remove pre-employment drug screens for marijuana. Another idea is to give raises for drivers that might compete with similar jobs. Delivery of packages is more physically demanding than city transportation or driving a school bus because of the unpredictable hours, and often comes with long, unpredictable hours.
The trade-off for consuming marijuana shouldn’t come with bad working conditions. What is the solution? It is necessary for Amazon to increase their pay to trickle down to their workers. It would be a better tactic for Amazon to get their drivers on board with their new drug testing policy if that happened.