Washington, DC: NORML and business software designer JIAN have partnered together to draft corporate guidelines recommending employers treat workers' off-the-clock cannabis use in a manner similar to alcohol. The policy will be included in the forthcoming edition of JIAN's "Employee Manual Builder," a popular, commercially available software program designed for corporate Human Resource (HR) managers.
The suggested employee guidelines discourage employers from implementing random and/or "pre-accident" urine screening for cannabis, noting that the test is not suitable for detecting employee impairment or determining recent drug use.
"The company understands that there is a difference between 'substance use' and 'substance abuse,' and that 'use' isn't necessarily 'abuse,'" the guidelines state. "Employees are free to make their own lifestyle choices when not in the workplace or otherwise on company time. However, such choices must not be allowed to interfere with job performance."
They add: "Among the reported 75 million Americans over age 26 who report having used cannabis, more than 70 percent are employed full-time. ... Overall, however, there exists little evidence that cannabis use is associated with lower productivity and/or elevated health costs among full-time employees. Like alcohol, moderate use of cannabis by employees during non-work hours should be of little concern for most employers."
The guidelines affirm that employees who report for work under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants, including cannabis, may be sanctioned and/or subject to varieties of performance and/or "post accident" testing.
NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said that the guidelines are science-based and appropriately reflect the prevalence and relative safety of marijuana use among working-age Americans.
"In the past few years, more and more companies large and small have contacted NORML wishing to implement a more tolerant and enlightened workplace drug policy, especially for those employees who may use cannabis off-the-clock for medicinal or recreational purposes," he said. "Targeting and punishing responsible employees who choose to use cannabis in their off-hours is a poor use of company resources. Moreover, this policy is arbitrary, discriminatory, and inherently unfair in an American workforce replete with alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceutical consumers."
Full text of NORML's model employee guidelines are available on NORML's website at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7160. For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500.