Skip to main content

The 5 Steps You Should Take If You're Thinking About Changing Your Drug Testing Policy Due To The New Marijuana Legislation (3 of 3)

Written by: Rikka Brandon
Published on: Jul 31, 2017



Business people picture


Drug Testing and Marijuana Legislation: 5 Steps for Changing Policy

The legal landscape around marijuana use is constantly changing...and always confusing.It’s particularly confusing in states where recreational marijuana use is legal. Pair that confusion with one of the lowest unemployment rates in history, and you start to wonder if drug testing policies are still legal or effective in the changed environment. In some cases, companies have begun to exclude marijuana from drug testing. Others have increased the frequency of random drug tests due to the increased likelihood of consumption.

Not sure if you should change your drug testing policy? Check out this quick assessment to see if it’s worth changing.


5 Steps During Change

If your company is considering making a change to its drug testing policy, here are five steps to to ensure your policy change works for your company and employees:

  1. Talk to Your Attorney. You may not be able to make many, if any, changes to your drug policy if you receive federal funding or employ DOT safety-sensitive workers since there are specific regulations you must follow. Find an attorney familiar with your organization or industry who will be able to cross-check your policy against state and federal laws to ensure it’s compliant. The goal is to create a policy which protects your business and employees but doesn’t unduly limit you.
  2. Review + Revise Your Company’s Drug Testing Policy. Carefully read through your drug testing policy, especially any section pertaining to marijuana use. Take this opportunity to determine what you really expect from employees regarding marijuana use, impairment and safety. Once you’ve clarified your drug testing program goals, work with your attorney to develop a legal and practical drug testing policy.
  3. Communicate the Changes. Once you have your attorney-approved drug testing policy, announce it to your employees. Speak openly, candidly and clearly about the changes to the company’s standards and expectations on drug use and testing. You may want to create a Q+A handout since most people won’t be comfortable asking questions for clarification on the policy. The key message you want to emphasize is the importance of maintaining a drug-free workplace for everyone’s safety. You may also want to institute an anonymous way for co-workers to report if they suspect someone is impaired at work. Safety is key and if someone is using at work - they pose a danger to everyone else going home to their family. Feeling overwhelmed? You may want to hire a PR consultant to help craft information to ensure you deliver a clear message when you roll out the changes.  
  4. Train Human Resources and Management. Your HR and managers need to understand the reason behind the changes, the scope of the changes and how legal marijuana use impacts different situations. Allow them to be confident when answering employee questions and handling issues. Be sure to remind them confidentiality is important when dealing with people’s health information.    
  5. Track + Monitor the Impact. Ensure you are collecting the right data to determine if your changes get the desired results. Track any and all key metrics you will use to determine if the new policy is improving or hurting your business. If you find less drug testing leads to more accidents and absenteeism, you can (and should) re-adjust your policy to add language for situations you didn’t previously consider when writing it. Or this new information may mean you need to increase testing to ensure your business is running as safely and profitably as possible.


Again, change isn’t always the right path.  But, if you’re considering changing your drug testing policy, these 5 steps will get you started. Just be sure to consult your legal advisors to ensure you’re in compliance with all laws and regulations.  




Rikka Brandon is the author of the best-selling book Hire Power: Everything Entrepreneurs Need To Know To Hire Awesome People. She’s the creator of the Hire Power Program, an online program designed to help small businesses build a rock-solid recruiting strategy and stop settling when they hire. She’s the Founder of and  Building Gurus. Rikka is the go-to girl for growth-minded entrepreneurs and forward-thinking business leaders and is considered as the USA’s Top Hiring Expert for Small Businesses.