Companies Eliminating Drug Tests Amid Job Shortages, Pot Legalization

Employers struggling to fill jobs have begun to relax or eliminate drug testing requirements amid increased marijuana legalization and a tightening U.S. job market. 

Drug testing has been standard procedure for decades across a variety of industries, ranging from finance to manufacturing to healthcare - which several employers have begun to eschew. 

Las Vegas based Excellence Health Inc., for example, stopped testing employees for marijuana two years ago - and completely dropped drug tests in the beginning of 2018 for employees on the pharmaceutical side of the business. “We don’t care what people do in their free time,” said company spokesperson Liam Meyer. “We want to help these people, instead of saying: ‘Hey, you can’t work for us because you used a substance." The company also provides a hotline for workers who might be struggling with drug issues.

MassRoots employee taking pot break during brainstorming session

In February, AutoNation Inc. - the largest auto dealer in the country, announced it would no longer refuse job applicants who tested positive for marijuana, while the Denver Post ended pre-employment drug testing last September for all positions that don't require safety precautions.

As the Daily Caller reported in February, the manufacturing industry in Ohio has experienced stunted growth because many potential employees are also addicted to drugs - primarily opioids.  

"Steve Staub, who runs Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Ohio, attended the State of the Union address Tuesday as a special guest to President Donald Trump. While there, aside from participating in the pageantry, Staub discussed problems in the manufacturing industry and business in general with the president.

Staub mentioned to Trump the toll the opioid crisis has had on business’ ability to fill jobs. About two million Americans nationwide are addicted to the drug. The crisis has been particularly hard on Staub’s home state of Ohio, were thousands of job applicants are turned away because of substance abuse," reports the Caller

“In Ohio alone, they have about 20,000 available jobs in manufacturing. In Dayton, Ohio, where I’m from, we have about 4,000 jobs available today in manufacturing that we can’t fill,” Staub told TheDCNF.

“We can’t get people to pass a drug test.”

States that have legalized either recreational or medicinal marijuana now lead the way in companies which are dropping drug tests. 

A survey last year by the Mountain States Employers Council of 609 Colorado employers found that the share of companies testing for marijuana use fell to 66 percent, down from 77 percent the year before. -Bloomberg

Last year the Fed noted in their traditionally drab Beige Book that employers are having an increasingly difficult time finding qualified and skilled workers to fill empty positions. 

Labor markets remained tight, and employers in most Districts had more difficulty filling low-skilled positions, although labor demand was stronger for higher skilled workers. Modest wage increases broadened, and reports noted bigger increases for workers with skills that are in short supply. A couple of Districts reported that worker shortages and increased labor costs were restraining growth in some sectors, including manufacturing, transportation, and construction.

And according to the Boston Fed the qualified labor shortage is so bad, that the hit rate on hiring after a simple math and drug test, collapses below 50%. To wit:

Labor markets in the First District continued to tighten somewhat. Many employers sought to add modestly to head counts (although one manufacturer laid off about 4 percent of staff over the last year), while wage increases were modest. Some smaller retailers noted increasing labor costs, in part driven by increases in state minimum wages being implemented over a multi-year period. Restaurant contacts, particularly in heavy tourism regions, expressed concern about possible labor shortages this summer, exacerbated by an expected slowdown in granting H-2B visas. Half of contacted manufacturers were hiring, though none in large numbers; several firms said it was hard to find workers.

One respondent said that during a recent six-month attempt to add to staff for a new product, two-thirds of applicants for assembly line jobs were screened out before hiring via math tests and drug tests; of 400 workers hired, only 180 worked out.

According to data from Quest Diagnostics Inc., failed drug tests reached an all-time high in 2017, which is estimated to get worse as more people begin to use state-legalized marijuana. 

The benefits of at least reconsidering the drug policy on behalf of an employer would be pretty high,” according to Mercer Law School professor Jeremy Kidd, who wrote a paper on the economics of workplace drug testing. “A blanket prohibition can’t possibly be the most economically efficient policy.”

Kidd also believes that eliminating drug testing would benefit the overall economy, allowing employers to hire the best, and theoretically most-productive workers which would otherwise not fall under consideration due to their recreational (or medical) habits. 

Indeed, more and more companies having a hard time hiring with unemployment around 4 percent are quietly pulling back on their strict drug policies. 

Employers are really strapped and saying ‘We’re going to forgive certain things,’” said James Reidy, a lawyer that works with employers on their human resources policies. Reidy knows of a half-dozen other large employers that have quietly changed their policies in recent years. Not all companies want to advertise the change, fearing it might imply they are soft on drugs. (Even former FBI director James Comey in 2014 half-joked about the need for the bureau to re-evaluate its drug-testing policy to attract the best candidates.) -Bloomberg

Employers are justifying the changes by claiming pre-employment testing isn't worth the expense in a society which has become increasingly accepting of recreational drug use. In October, a Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana - while Republican support for legalization is now at a majority level. 

When Gallup began asking the question in 1969, just 12% of American supported changing Marijuana's legal status.



As Gallup concludes: "As efforts to legalize marijuana at the state level continue to yield successes, public opinion, too, has shifted toward greater support. The Department of Justice under the current Republican administration has been perceived as hostile to state-level legalization. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions could find himself out of step with his own party if the current trends continue. Rank-and-file Republicans' views on the issue have evolved just as Democrats' and independents' have, though Republicans remain least likely to support legalizing pot."

With drug tests costing employers between $30 and $50 each time, the value of maintaining a drug-free workplace has become less and less attractive tradeoff. 

While pre-employment drug testing has waned in recent years, dangerous jobs such as operating heavy machinery and flying airplanes will always require checks. Companies which also contract with the U.S. government will also likely continue the practice of drug testing in accordance with federal mandates. 

Not all employers are feelin' the vibe. Burger King parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc isn't altering its corporate marijuana policy, according to CEO Daniel Schwartz. Ford Motor Co. similarly treats pot as an illegal substance.

Said companies have an ally in Attorney General Jeff Sessions - whose war on marijuana is in direct conflict with several statements made by President Trump on the campaign trail in which he said the federal government should leave weed policy to the states.

"In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state," Trump told The Washington Post. "… Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen — right? Don't we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states."

Sessions, meanwhile, rescinded Obama-era policies in January which enabled state-legalized cannabis industries to thrive. The uncertainty caused by the DOJ's actions may put a crimp in both the industry, as well as employer plans to relax their drug policies. 

Moreover, employers have to weigh the financial costs of changing their rules surrounding drug tests - as discounts are often offered on workers' compensation insurance for companies which maintain "drug free" workplaces. That said, the type of job the test is for makes a huge difference - as white collar and other clerical positions are less likely to have many workers comp claims vs. factory jobs, for example. For many employers, the money saved by meeting the "drug free zone" qualifications isn't worth the savings. 

“We assume that a certain level of employees are going to be partaking on the weekends,” said Reidy. “We don’t care. We’re going to exclude a whole group of people, and we desperately need workers.” 


DillyDilly Arnold Tue, 03/06/2018 - 13:30 Permalink

Sessions alarm clock just went off... Finally! something across his desk that he feels comfortable acting on without having to to worry about fotos of him doing something he should be ashamed of arrive in a manila envelope...


Chrissakes Sessions... Bubba can hogtie lolitas and get away with it & still have Oscar parties in his honor... You? You can spend your entire tenure as AG trying to stuff skeletons in a closet like your name was Sandusky, and even if you succeed, you'll still only be remembered as a Keebler Elf.

In reply to by Arnold

Buckaroo Banzai DillyDilly Tue, 03/06/2018 - 13:41 Permalink

Just one more example of the Jews turning the USA into a cesspool of moral degeneracy. Corporate America does its part by lowering the bar, moving the goalposts, and looking the other way. Of course the Jews have made it easy on corporate executives to do the wrong thing-- in a world where executive compensation is tied to stock price, you can manipulate executive behavior pretty easily by delinking stock price from actual profits. If the negative profit consequences of hiring a bunch of degenerate drug users doesn't affect your compensation in any way, why wouldn't you make it easy on yourself and just reduce hiring standards?

This of course begs the question: if generating actual profits is no longer the behavior that executives are rewarded upon, what kind of behavior is in fact rewarded? Answer: doing the bidding of your Jewish masters, of course. Why just last week we had a perfect example of this new-style corporate governance. I submit into evidence Exhibit A: Delta Airlines.

In reply to by DillyDilly

ebear jughead Tue, 03/06/2018 - 17:08 Permalink

"The majority of the sheeple want safety and order at ANY expense."

Worse than that.  A growing number of people (including some on this forum) want to punish others for behavior they don't approve of, and will demand that government do that on their behalf.  It never occurs to them that the power of government could easily be turned on them if someone disapproves of their behavior.

In reply to by jughead

GoinFawr DownWithYogaPants Tue, 03/06/2018 - 17:19 Permalink

lol, that's just what my surgeon said! "...on a long enough timeline" and all that cal

I told him,

"Don't ever tell me the odds...." Han Solo

And it's just my opinion when I tell you you haven't really lived until you've pinched a wide mountain valley closed at 150 mph on two wheels.

"We just had a near-life experience!" Tyler Durden

Lemme guess, you have a prescribed helmet that you wear all the time....even when you're just sitting at home; safety first!



In reply to by DownWithYogaPants

GoinFawr Justin Case Tue, 03/06/2018 - 19:32 Permalink

"I rode for 35 yrs."

Nice, Grampa! jk

I mean, c'mon, riding never was really 'safe' (ever see Easy Rider?), and cars aren't much safer, especially 35 years ago.

I dunno about 'less safe' now though, seems about the same to me since I got my first bike; stupid asshole drivers everywhere then too.

Lots of decent folk too, naturally.

In reply to by Justin Case

Global Douche GoinFawr Wed, 03/07/2018 - 06:36 Permalink

For me, since I'm out in the sticks, it's the shitty condition of my state highways. Oklahoma does a pathetic job of road maintenance. Texas allows some FM (Farm to Market) roads to get a bit crappy, then someone cracks the whip and it gets fixed. Here, it's just another patch-it-up deal. Totally screwed up.

In reply to by GoinFawr

cbxer55 Justin Case Tue, 03/06/2018 - 19:38 Permalink

Been riding since 76. Still ride to this day, weather permitting. Fair weather rider here. I have two high-power street bikes as of this time. 06 Suzuki M109R and 08 Suzuki GSX1300 B-King. I have been down a few times in those years. And on several of them if I had not been wearing a helmet, I'd be pushin up daisies at this time. I wear all the protective gear, motorcycle jacket and gloves, boots and helmet. Refuse to even go around the block without it. 

I'm 56, be 57 soon. Lived a good life to this point. Not afraid of dieing, as long as it's quick please. Thus, I will not give up something I've enjoyed all these years unless I'm just physically or mentally unable to do so. I work out every day, do crossword puzzles, get good sleep every night. Nope, not quitting.


In reply to by Justin Case

Malleus Maleficarum bluecollartrader Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:41 Permalink

With all respect, what's your point? You want the government approving your employment contracts? Freedom is scary!

1. You're no longer an employer, but if you were it'd be your company and you'd be expected to lead

2. One can test for it, and one can find out this information in a matter of minutes

3. Hiring any employee is a "real gamble." They're human, too, and all have their personal issues, like the rest of us

4. The guy who's hired to sweep the floors (not drive, oddly enough) is getting a "floor-sweeper" hourly wage+20HRS/WK+no benefits, so it follows that he wouldn't much care and shouldn't be placed in positions requiring great amounts of responsibility

I have no problem with a person running their company the way they see fit, though I'd prefer testing only upon legitimate suspicion. As we're seeing with this article, the trend in employers treating their workers like cattle, wanting 100% control over their lives while wanting to pay pennies for that control, ultimately translates into employees acting like thoughtless cattle. Until, that is,  they wise up and move to more liberty-oriented employment where their personal time is just that: their own personal time!

The small business owners that I've seen be truly successful are those who realize their employees are humans and treat them accordingly. They generally would prefer to have a conversation with their employees, rather than act like the Stasi. Granted, government labor laws and a lawsuit-obsessed populace make things much harder than they should be!

In reply to by bluecollartrader

Global Douche Justin Case Wed, 03/07/2018 - 06:53 Permalink

This is where I disagree with you, STRONGLY!

My state is one of two which has a worker's compensation court. I continue working for a Fortune 500 company with ongoing drug-testing policies. I have no problem staying clean so this isn't an issue. I was on a poorly-maintained piece of access equipment which partially collapsed and caused injury. I used the handrail as I was supposed to, but this shit happens? Yes, it CAN! Because of the jurisdictional nature of how the court interacts, I had to drive over twice the distance to receive MRI and consultation regarding the after-effects of this injury, because Amarillo seems too convenient, it being in Texas. Get this?? Of course I was tested again in the aftermath and had to recover from it for several weeks on long-term insurance covering much of my income which I've been paying for. I'm fine today with no lasting ill-effects. At least the mileage from many trips I made through the traffic maze in OKC was enough to buy me a new set of high-quality tires. 

In reply to by Justin Case

PhilofOz FireBrander Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:43 Permalink

Exactly! These tests pick up that you've had a joint or bong from days earlier and you'll be at that time 100% straight yet someone that got smashed the day before on alcohol but has got his blood alcohol reading down to zero and is suffering one momentous distracting hangover will apparently be fine to operate anything! 

In reply to by FireBrander

HardAssets bluecollartrader Tue, 03/06/2018 - 17:01 Permalink

The retort, of course, is - ' Would you reject any candidate who drank alcohol, including the occasional beer or glass of wine during their off hours ? ' If so, you're going to severely restrict the potential employee pool.


Marijuana isn't heroine or crack. It should be examined in a rational, intelligent manner using facts.

And of course, taking any substance while on the job that impedes performance would be stupid. 

In reply to by bluecollartrader

ebear bluecollartrader Tue, 03/06/2018 - 17:51 Permalink

In Canada, we don't test for drugs or alcohol prior to employment.  That can only be done as part of a police investigation.

When you take a job that involves public safety, such as pilot, truck/bus driver, ship captain, etc. you accept the responsibility that goes with that position, which includes never showing up to work stoned, drunk or hungover.

I understand the employer's dilemma, but that just goes with the territory.  In the same sense that I'm expected to be a sober, conscientious employee, employers have the responsibility to assess the character and qualifications of the people they hire, including background checks and references.

I hauled petroleum products for ten years.  My employer had very high standards backed by performance reviews and frequent safety seminars.  Having set the requirements and tone of the workplace, they hardly ever had to intervene because their employees would do that for them if they saw someone doing something wrong.

Most of their operations people and mid-level managers were drawn from the workforce, so apart from a good job, you had a potential career path.  When you have people that understand what's expected and can work towards those goals, you have a much better company than if you just throw some guy in a truck to see if he can drive, send him off for a drug test, then forget about him until he causes a problem.

When you hire fuck-ups, you won't just lose them down the road, you'll also lose responsible people who don't want to work in that sort of environment and will take their skills to another company with better awareness of their obligations.

All that said, the last thing I would consider today is running my own trucking co.  It's a cutthroat business, and these days, responsible people are in short supply.


In reply to by bluecollartrader

Hongcha topspinslicer Tue, 03/06/2018 - 14:50 Permalink

You are locked-in to the Anslinger / Reefer Madness mindset. Alcohol is far more corrosive and destructive, to the individual and to the society.

The cannabis available at the shops is often very strong and comes in benign-looking forms such as chocolate or even root beer barrels. A child could have a psychotic episode eating one. Thus, access must be controlled.

Otherwise, enjoy one of the few good things the U.S.A. is trending towards circa 2018. Or let us do it, because there are a lot of us who so intend.

In reply to by topspinslicer

dogbreath Hongcha Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:09 Permalink

with one or two exceptions, who never used anything untill after they finished university, the rest of the pot heads who started sooner beleive some wild shit.  Its a constant refrain from said potheads that " its not as bad as alcohol " .  Its worse than alcohol because it makes you stupid.  Alcohol makes you drunk and fall down.  Potheads keep telling me it cures cancer and other diseases.  I say " you have cancer "???

Its called dope for a reason.  Wish it on your kids.

In reply to by Hongcha

I am Groot dogbreath Tue, 03/06/2018 - 15:21 Permalink

I have to argue with you on this on and call bullshit. I've never seen a pothead start a fight, crash a car, or start acting fucking crazy because they were high. Drunk people-all the damn time.

Potheads wanna chill, play X-box and listen to music. Drunks always wanna start shit, drive like total fucking idiots or maniacs, and do the dumbest damn things usually caught on video before they "fall down".

Ever see Mothers Against Potheads Driving ? Nope. Me either. Ever see a pothead kill someone with a car ? Nope.


Alcohol -0

In reply to by dogbreath

Miffed Microbi… I am Groot Tue, 03/06/2018 - 16:11 Permalink

I agree with dogbreath. We have tried to give lab assistant jobs to many people who were reformed alcoholics as well as dope users. Alcoholics were far more easy to train complex procedures and retain the knowledge. Granted both groups were not using at the time while they were being trained but all of us noted the difference between the groups. Just my personal observation.



In reply to by I am Groot

HardAssets Miffed Microbi… Tue, 03/06/2018 - 17:14 Permalink

There may be cultural reasons for what you observed. In the U.S., pot has been considered 'counter- culture'. Booze has been the mainstream chemical mind state alterer. Those attracted to pot may tend to be more flighty than the mainstream types.


Personally, for the most part, I stay away from chemical mind altering substances in general. (Except for the occasional drink when getting together with friends or during some holidays.) For me, they reduce mental sharpness way too much. Or they make me fall asleep.

In reply to by Miffed Microbi…

Baron von Bud HardAssets Tue, 03/06/2018 - 17:39 Permalink

Reducing mental sharpness is the point. Too much analytical and not enough intuitional often causes smart people to be dangerously misled. May I suggest a late afternoon of a primo hybrid with a couple beers, if desired, to quench the dry mouth. Then relax or take a walk in the outdoors. Feel one with the grasses and bees. Yeah, it sounds crazy now but you'll see. Just let go.

In reply to by HardAssets