As you will probably know by now, a small town by the name of Hugo in Colorado experienced a bizarre public health panic a few weeks ago, following the apparent detection of THC in the public water supply. This, despite the fact that THC is completely insoluble in water, making it fundamentally impossible for this to happen. Unsurprisingly therefore, further tests on the water supply found that there was in fact no THC in it whatsoever.
Nevertheless, the whole saga brought to light one on-going argument among those that are embracing the new face of cannabis culture that is slowly but surely sweeping the United States. The only reason what was thought to be THC was detected in the town’s water supply in the first place was because a local company had been carrying out drug tests on its employees.
Incredibly, despite the fact that cannabis is now entirely legal in Colorado for recreational purposes, businesses are still entirely within their rights to fire employees if they use cannabis during their own private time. Even if they are in no way under the influence at work, they could still lose their job if tests show that they have been using it outside work. Perhaps most shockingly of all, this remains exactly the same for those who are prescribed medical marijuana for any given diseases or conditions.
And not only do businesses still have the legal right to fire employees to cannabis use, but a surprising number of companies are continuing to test their employees on a regular basis.
It all stems from a case that was brought before the Colorado Supreme Court last year, beginning when an employee of Dish Network was fired in 2010 when it showed in the results of a drug test that he had been using cannabis. Despite the fact that he had a medical prescription for the drug which he used for pain management, the company terminated his contract anyway.
As far as the courts were concerned, the fact that Federal law still classifies marijuana as illegal means that employers still have the law on their side, should they choose to fire employees who use cannabis.
But given the fact that so much progress has been made and attitudes to cannabis have changed so significantly, why exactly are employers continuing to administer these pointless drug tests?
Well, as far as most experts on the subject are concerned, it comes down to on-going and highly dangerous misconceptions with regard to how cannabis effects the behaviour of human beings. Or to put it another way, businesses continue to read into the ridiculously dated and offensive stereotype which labels all stoners as lazy, underperforming underachievers who cannot be bothered getting the job done properly.
What makes it even worse is the fact that there is growing scientific evidence to prove that the truth is actually quite to the contrary. For example, the results of a study published recently in the Journal of Health Economics found that absenteeism due to sickness has actually decreased between 8% and 15% in states where cannabis has been decriminalised.
Not only this, but the fact that it is possible for traces of cannabis to remain in the system and be detected several weeks after the effects have 100% worn off makes the entire drug testing system used by most companies completely and totally invalid.
Still, it won’t be until the public in general adopts a view of marijuana and the effects of cannabis in general that’s more realistic that companies may begin to see the truth for what it really is. Sooner or later however, as the new face of cannabis culture sweeps the nation, they will have little choice but to move with the times, or face being left in an outdated era of misguided and offensive judgment.