The death of the pre-employment marijuana test

2019-03-29 | BY Louis Song | IN Hiring

The death of the pre-employment marijuana test

While drug tests may have, at some point, served as a litmus test for which people are dedicated, focused, and – with no better way to put it – law-abiding, it is now an expendable and potentially unethical measure that does little but limit your candidate pool.

To be clear, Proven Recruiting does not condone drug use of any kind. I’ve built a company that is fiercely dedicated to employees’ well-being. And yet, this company – a company whose sole purpose is to identify and engage talented professionals – does not drug test our internal workers.

From a business perspective, it doesn’t make sense to unquestioningly reject a huge portion of the population – especially in today’s tight labor market. A 2018 Gallup poll found that two-thirds of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. While it’s unlikely two-thirds of Americans actually imbibe the substance, you are nevertheless significantly reducing your chances of finding the perfect professional for your business.

It’s bad business.

Right now, your goal is to hire highly skilled experts as quickly and efficiently as possible. Your company is expanding – especially the technology wing, if you’re anything like the rest of US businesses – and you don’t have enough specialized workers to support your growing needs.

While some companies are looking to ex-convicts to fill the gap – a great way to expand your diversity efforts while tapping into an under-valued population – others are keeping it simple. Eliminating drug tests requires absolutely no effort on your part, except an open mind. With unemployment holding steady at 4.0%, and public opinion skewing in favor of marijuana legalization, relaxing your drug test rules is just smart business.

From a marketing standpoint, you should know that rejecting people based on their marijuana usage will not win you any points. It’s likely that, eventually, all companies will forego drug testing – and at that point you’ll already be branded as out-of-touch.

It’s expensive.

Drug tests cost $40-$80 per person. Depending on how many people you’re hiring, and at what point in the hiring process you conduct the test, this ostensibly small amount can start to add up.

We don’t want you to be misinformed, though – not drug testing can cost you too. If you work in a hands-on environment with large machinery, the cost of not drug testing may far exceed the savings. Banks and finance-driven environments may also find it expedient to adopt drug tests, for you otherwise open yourself up to significant liability.

Additionally, your insurance costs could potentially climb, as companies that drug test will often enjoy slightly reduced rates. If you work in a corporate workplace, though, the difference should be nominal, if there is a difference at all. The savings from hiring potentially better workers from a wider pool of candidates far exceeds the losses in most cases.

It’s not illegal to drug test – but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Especially if you live in a state where marijuana is already legal – of which there are 11 states for recreational use and 33 for medical.

To be sure, marijuana users are not a protected class; you are fully within your rights to exclude candidates based on drug use. But if marijuana is legal in your state, and the person in question is fully able to carry out their job, then you may want to rethink your hiring standards.

Don’t prolong the inevitable.

It’s increasingly hard to stay competitive, especially if you’re not willing to compromise on salary and you don’t offer nap pods or unlimited vacation. If you want to access a broader talent pool, you’ll need to make concessions somewhere. And as concessions go, this one is pretty low value to most employers – but incredibly high value to recreational marijuana users.

Can you really afford to reject qualified candidates on the basis of their off-the-clock, recreational pastimes? In general, any policy that categorically rejects a huge swath of people without context is destined to be counterproductive.

We specialize in promoting you and your company in order to attract the most qualified people possible – get in touch to learn more about how you can market your company more effectively and entice hard-won candidates.   

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