Now that cannabis is legal in New Jersey, one might assume that the days of THC drug testing are finally in the past. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all employers. While ANJA advocates for access to safe, recreational cannabis, we want our consumers to know all of the risks and benefits of the plant. This is not intended as legal advice; it is more-so intended as a guideline for responsible consumption. Read on to learn more about THC drug testing in New Jersey.
Under New Jersey law, employers are allowed to test employees for the presence of drugs, including cannabis, as a condition of employment. This means that an employer can require a drug test as part of the hiring process, or at any time during an employee's tenure with the company as stated by their employment contract. In other words, if you know that your employer is against cannabis, it may be wise to clarify your workplace’s testing policies before consuming.
According to The American Addictions Center, government positions were the most common jobs to require a pre-employment drug test. Healthcare and hospitals came in second, with Manufacturing falling in third. Healthcare and hospital jobs were the most common to require regular drug screening, followed by transportation and logistics. Meanwhile, customer service and support jobs were the least likely to require regular drug screening.
While the state’s cannabis laws do allow employers to conduct random drug screenings, a positive test isn't enough to fire an employee. If employers suspect that the employee is high at work, the employer must create a report that documents his or her suspicions. This is referred to as the "drug recognition process." Employers, under the guidelines, can fill out a “reasonable suspicion” report that documents the worker’s behavior, physical appearance and other evidence.
Employees who are registered medical marijuana patients and who test positive for marijuana may be able to provide a valid medical explanation for the positive test. In these cases, the employer must engage in an "interactive process" with the employee to determine an appropriate course of action.
The "interactive process" is a term used in employment law to refer to the process by which an employer and an employee with a disability or medical condition work together to determine appropriate accommodation for the employee. This process typically involves a series of discussions and negotiations between the employer and the employee, during which both parties are expected to actively participate and provide input on possible accommodations.
New Jersey’s legislation has some overlap with other cannabis-friendly states, such as California and Massachusetts. In California, the use of medical marijuana is protected under the state's disability discrimination laws. This means that employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees who are registered medical marijuana patients unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer. This has overlap with Massachusetts, where the state's medical marijuana law expressly prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who are registered, medical marijuana patients.
Even though weed is taxed, licensed, and legalized in the state of New Jersey, it is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law. This means that employers subject to federal regulations, such as those in the transportation industry, must follow federal drug testing guidelines, which do not make any exceptions for medical marijuana use. If you work for the federal government, it is safe to assume that you may have to be more conscious of when and where you consume cannabis products.
What about Recreational Users?
A good rule of thumb for any responsible cannabis consumer: don't show up to work high. That being said, New Jersey has more workplace protections than most states in the US when it comes to cannabis. If you are not in a federal or private role that requires a drug-free environment, you should feel less stressed about testing positive for THC that was consumed outside of work hours. ANJA can't wait for the day that workplace protections are federally protected- but we alone do not have the power to enact cannabis policy reform. In addition to supporting the destigmatization of cannabis, make sure that you’re voting in all local, state, and federal elections- cannabis is on the ballot more than you might think! Talk to your friends, family, and representatives to ensure that the next generation of cannabis consumers do not have to live in fear of losing their job over a joint.
But truly, the easiest thing that you can do is to ensure that you consume safely and responsibly. Cannabis will only become less controversial when it becomes apparent that consumers are not being actively harmed or harmful. Step one to normalization is destigmatization, and we hope you will join us on our mission to enjoy cannabis in the most beneficial ways possible.
The law isn’t perfect yet, but you still need to follow it. Be careful, be responsible, and enjoy!
When you have questions, we have ANJA.