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If I Test for Marijuana, I Won’t Have any Workers Left

Last time I noted the faulty logic of the argument to stop testing for marijuana when it becomes legalized in Canada.  Continuing on the path of arguments surrounding marijuana testing due to impending legislative changes, I wanted to touch on another common misnomer.


If I test workers for marijuana, I won’t have any workers left


This is simply not true!

EVERYONE does not use marijuana.  According to the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey–Mental Health (CCHS–MH), only 12.2% of Canadians aged 15 or older (3.4 million) used marijuana in the past year.  This leaves you with nearly 88% of Canadians who are not regular marijuana users.  Depending upon your circle of friends, or your current circle of employees, this might seem like a low number, but it’s the best number I have.  For the sake of argument, let’s say that the survey was not accurate and use is higher.  Even at DOUBLE the numbers, the bulk of the population are not active users.

I want to be very careful and state that I DO NOT think marijuana users are unemployable. What I do think, is that if someone is choosing to regularly use marijuana than they should not be working in a safety sensitive environment.  And on the flip-side, if someone makes the choice to work in a safety-sensitive environment, then they also need to make the choice to not abuse alcohol or use drugs.

Companies who do not test for drugs in their safety sensitive workers tend to attract workers who know this.  Their workforce may have failed drug tests for other companies, but know that it won’t be a barrier at this company.   Because of this, companies may perceive that a significant % of the working population are regular drug users, when really their workforce is not a statistically accurate sampling of qualified workers.  Their % of drug users tends to be elevated because there are no drug testing measures in place.

If companies test for marijuana, it may push safety-sensitive workers to not regularly use the drug and it will attract more workers who are not regular marijuana users and drug users in general.  Drug testing is not magic.  It is not a magic button that stops worksite impairment.  It will not stop all workers from using drugs, but it does help to mitigate risk.  It is a pro-active step in asserting yourself as an employer who believes in a safe workplace.

Do not make the decision to drug test based upon the fear of losing your entire workforce.

Next time I will discuss if we should only test for recent marijuana use, therefore only oral fluid testing, not urine testing.  This is probably the biggest point of contention surrounding the top of marijuana testing.  There are mixed opinions.  I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer, but I will provide my perspective.

As always, feel free to comment.  Feel free to disagree with me, I just ask that if you do, please do so in a rational and respectful way.  I would love to hear your opinion on the topic.

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Rachel Rae
Business Development Manager at Health & Hearing Conservation Consultants
Rachel is dedicated to helping both companies and individuals find customized solutions for their health and wellness needs. She knows that one size does not fit all and every client is unique. Call her if you are looking for a quick, knowledgeable and friendly provider of occupational testing.

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