Cannabis Confusion:

What Organizations Need to Know about Marijuana Legalization and Drug Testing


An important priority for organizations of all sizes is maintaining a safe and productive work environment, and for many this includes drug screening for employees and job applicants. But the national push for various levels of legalization regarding marijuana use, and the resulting patchwork of state laws and local ordinances now taking effect throughout the country, has led to confusion and concerns among organization leaders and staff.

To keep organizations informed, AmericanChecked has compiled answers to some frequently asked questions regarding marijuana and drug testing. Here is up-to-date information for your organization:


What is the current state of legalization efforts?

Currently, in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is legal for those dealing with certain illnesses to use medicinal marijuana if they obtain required documentation and medical approval. In 15 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington), the District of Columbia, and Guam, recreational marijuana use is legal for adults.


How do legalization efforts affect my organization and our drug testing?

Under the current network of state laws, there are many complexities and considerations for your organization to keep in mind. Some states provide workplace protections, especially for those approved for medical usage, while others do not require accommodations for any marijuana use.

And while some courts have held that federal law preempts state marijuana laws, others have allowed states greater latitude. This has led some states and localities to begin limiting the use of pre-employment tests for marijuana use, with exceptions for positions involving public safety.

Given these complexities, it is very important for your organization to become familiar with state and local laws regarding marijuana use and how these laws affect your operations.


Are organizations being forced to accept or even condone marijuana use?

No – regardless of marijuana’s legal status in your state, drug use or intoxication while on the job never has to be tolerated. It is legal and reasonable for employers of all types to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free work environment, and drug testing is allowed as long as applicants are clearly informed of testing policies.


In light of increased acceptance, is drug testing for marijuana still widely used?

Yes. Marijuana use remains illegal under federal law, and despite state-level legalization efforts, significant safety and liability issues surround the drug’s use.


What can I expect from the drug testing provided to my organization?

Drug testing generally involves a five-panel screen that includes amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates and phencyclidine (PCP). Our testing partner offers a lab collected and Medical Review Officer (MRO) tested 5- or 10-panel drug screen, provided through the outsourcing services of LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, and marijuana testing will be included as part of the overall screening.


What if I have questions or concerns?

Your organization’s legal counsel is the best source of information on laws and regulations specific to your state and community. For questions regarding the drug testing solutions offered by AmericanChecked, feel free to schedule a demo by completing the form below or at contact us at


drug screening and legal weed


Note: This is for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. AmericanChecked does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Information on this website is for educational purposes only.