Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Easy answers department

According to an August 29 article in the NYT,
[r]esidents in 14 states and Washington can now appeal to their doctors for prescriptions for medical marijuana to help them with their pain.
But only one of those states - Rhode Island - has a law that offers legal protection to students, employees, and tenants who use medical marijuana. The result is that
workers have been fired for failing drug tests despite having prescriptions saying, in effect, that what they are doing is legal according to the laws of their states.
This, the Times says, has created "a new legal gray area" that has left
company officials scratching their heads over how to enforce a uniform policy for a drug that the federal government has not recognized as having a legitimate medical purpose.
Scratching their heads, huh? A real conundrum, eh? Well, let me help you out. Here are two answers that even corporate executives should be able to grasp:

One is, have a policy that says you can't be fired or otherwise disciplined for legal use of a substance for which you have a prescription.

Two is, don't do the fucking drug tests! End all pre-employment testing, dump random testing, and only test on an individualized basis in the case of someone you have actual cause to believe is stoned at work in a way that interferes with their job performance.

Problem solved. See? Easy.

Footnote: I know some employers, particularly in areas involving public health and/or safety, are required by law to do testing. Leaving aside the fact that the phrase "public health and/or safety" has sometimes been stretched beyond all rational limit, at least some of those employers still could institute the first option.

The ultimate truth of the matter is that most drug testing has nothing to do, even hypothetically, with "public health and/or safety." It's a matter of employers doing it because they can. Not because it's necessary, but because they can. At root, it's an exercise in power, in dominance, not in safety.

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