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Podcast: How Opioids and Marijuana Are Changing the Drug-Testing Landscape

Between the nation's growing opioid crisis and the increasing number of marijuana legalization laws, employers may need to revisit their drug-testing programs if they have not already done so. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta said during a 2018 speech about occupational licensing that employers should "rethink the practice of drug testing every applicant" because it could keep qualified people out of the workforce.

On this podcast, management-side employment attorney Jim Reidy discusses pressing issues affecting this evolving area. Reidy chairs the labor and employment group at Sheehan Phinney in New Hampshire, and said several of his clients no longer test for marijuana at the preemployment stage. He noted that Maine has prohibited such tests prior to employment, and thinks that could be a bellwhether for other states.

Reidy also discussed the opioid epidemic and pointed out that there is some question as to whether drug tests adequately capture opioid use. Even if they do so, Reidy said, termination is not always the answer. "It shouldn't be like a criminal record that follows them [applicants or employees] forever."

He asserted that there are alternatives. For instance, Reidy cited New Hampshire's Recovery Friendly Workforce policy that provides the potential for tax credits for employers that help revitalize an employee and support their rehabilitation efforts. He added that some employers also have had success partnering with employee assistance program (EAP) providers.

Additional Resources

Opioid Epidemic and the Workplace

Podcast: What Marijuana Legalization Laws Mean for Drug Testing

Marijuana Laws by State