Drug testing policies might get a much needed upgrade soon
Even though recreational cannabis has been legal for adults to consume since 2012 in Colorado, there isn't a single company known to have changed its policies on having it in your system. So NORML, a marijuana advocacy group, is developing a citizen-led lobbying effort to convince employers that they're missing out on good talent by testing for a substance that's less harmful than alcohol.
Person unveiled the new anti-drug test campaign recently in Denver's RiNo neighborhood, in a vaulted warehouse that was recently converted into a high-class, cannabis-friendly meeting space and co-work area called Cultivated Synergy.
There, the air is filled with strong whiffs of dabs and new money. The shmancy track lighting overhead and heavily-laminated business cards being handed around are a stark reminder that, in Denver, smoking marijuana is more likely to land you a job than it is to lose you one.
Still, the people there tell stories of horror back when they lived in bummer states, when drug tests dragged down their careers. For budtender Kees Van Bergeijk, whose body was a tangled mess after he hit the pavement at 50 mph on his longboard, marijuana was the best thing to manage the pain — except for opioids, he said, but those things will kill you. He was a lifeguard at a camp for special needs kids, but his use made him have to quit. When he told the kids, a special needs girl who he used to tell stories to broke into tears.
Yet, just as some businesses look down on pot smokers, intelligent cannabists look down on drug-testing businesses as unsophisticated or uneducated, says brand consultant Tyco Skinner — who has an MBA from Cornell. "I discount their business acumen," he says.
Drug-testing businesses are missing out on top-notch talent, Person adds. "Really intelligent people who might be the best graphic designers or coders on the planet, but because they have daily nausea, they use marijuana, so they don't go for the job," she says.
NORML's campaign also includes coordination from NORML chapters in Oregon, Washington and California. Colorado's NORML will be lobbying on Colorado's Capitol Hill on March 7. There, they'll point out how silly it is to test for marijuana but not other, more life-wrecking drugs. The current situation tells employers, "Take all the drugs you want, just don't smoke any weed,” says Person. “Get as drunk as you want, but don't do weed. Do a bunch of cocaine and then come to work, and you'll be fine, it's out of your system quick, but don't do any weed.
"It's ridiculous," Person adds. "In time, it has to change. People are excited that the conversation is being had again."