Two thirds of Americans now live in a state with legal medical marijuana and roughly one out of five live in a place with legal recreational marijuana, but that doesn’t mean everyone in those areas has equal access to this legal weed. There seems to be a social gap in what kind of employees routinely get tested for marijuana and what kind don’t.
Nowhere is the disparity in testing between white and blue collar jobs more defined than in Northern California, an area The Cannafornian just looked at in depth. A piece by the website noted, for instance, that at UC Berkeley, professors aren’t tested for cannabis in their system, but campus security officers are. Similarly, the designers and programmers at Google or Intel won’t be tested for marijuana, but the workers who drive those people to work on a bus or build the offices they work in likely will be tested.
Though there is reason to value the sobriety of someone operating heavy machinery over someone designing an app, that doesn’t take away from the smell of classism that this disparity has. While college educated people working desk jobs can get high all they want, those who work with their hands and bodies all day cannot enjoy the same privilege.
The mass leniency of marijuana laws across the nation might have actually backfired for some workers. Though data from the American Management Association shows that drug testing overall has decreased from 81 percent in 1996 to 62 percent in 2004, but meanwhile one in five workers in Colorado said that drug testing policies have become more strict since the state legalized marijuana in 2014.
One issue is that there is as of yet no standard way to test whether or not a person is stoned at work. If a person has alcohol in their system, you can tell that they’re drinking on the job, but if someone has THC in their blood, it could mean they smoked pot days or weeks ago. “Even if you are not under the influence now, the employer has no way of verifying that,” Christina Semmer, an employment lawyer who works with Wilson Turner Kosmo in San Diego, told the Cannafornian.
“How do we decide who is truly impaired at work?… That is the next frontier in cannabis law,” Semmer added. She also said that she “can’t think of a hotter issue in employment law right now.” Though Proposition 64 legalized marijuana in California, it also left employers the right to prohibit the use of cannabis by its employees.