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Why are drug testing laws so important to understand?

  • Published: 12/28/2022
  • Updated: 12/28/2022


A prospective employee admits to using marijuana but has evidence of a legal marijuana prescription. Your policy prohibits the use of marijuana. Is this a violation?

It depends on the state. In some states considering this a violation is against the law as prohibited discrimination, in another state, you may be subject to liability for negligent hiring practices if you place her in a safety-sensitive position and she causes injury.

Money on the Table

Studies show that drugs and alcohol in the workplace contribute to more accidents, absenteeism, lower productivity, and decreased morale which create indirect costs on the workplace.

It often makes sense for an employer to adopt a program. Many states provide financial incentives for adopting a drug and alcohol free workplace program in the form of workers’ compensation insurance premium rebates or discounts.

These benefits are unique to the state, but you may never learn about them unless you take a workplace drug and alcohol testing course.

Lawful Activity

High turnover employers prefer to get drug and alcohol testing results instantly.

Many resort to instant testing urine or saliva to achieve this goal. However, is this method lawful? This depends on the state, whether the employer has adopted a policy under the state voluntary drug-free workplace program or independent of it, and the general procedures in how a non-negative result is carried out.

Understanding the state drug and alcohol testing laws is an important step in avoiding unwittingly committing unlawful activity.

Better Negotiations

Employers and labor unions often fiercely negotiate the terms of a drug-free workplace program. Critical to this negotiation process is actually knowing what limitations the state may or may not place on the terms of that bargain. Likewise, employers and their service agents (laboratories, medical review officers, collection sites, etc.) often engaging in negotiations on the price and extent of services to be rendered in the implementation of a drug-free workplace program. Both parties are at an advantage if they can express a solid understanding of the status of the laws in the state(s) which are the subject of the negotiations.

As an employer, understanding and staying up-to-date on drug and alcohol testing laws because testing plays an important role in maintaining a safe and productive workplace, but it is also subject to a complex web of state and federal regulations. By staying up-to-date on drug and alcohol testing laws, you can help ensure that your workplace remains compliant with all applicable regulations.