Oregon Can’t Find Enough Workers Who Can Pass Drug Tests
Now that weed has been legal for a few years in Oregon, employers are having a hard time finding prospective employees who can pass a drug test. Combine that with the fact that the state recently lowered the offense levels if you’re caught with still-illegal drugs, such as meth, cocaine, or heroin, to small misdemeanor levels, and the “safe injection” sites that pop up around the city with free needle exchanges, sponsored by the county and funded with taxpayer dollars.
On May 23, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released its quarterly forecast, a 66-page assessment of the state’s economy, which is booming.Yet state economists Mark McMullen and Josh Lehner are hearing from employers that many of those who don’t have jobs are unemployed for a reason.“One labor issue that continues to crop up is drug testing. At least anecdotally, more firms are reporting trouble finding workers who can pass a drug test,” the economists write.
The economists aren’t sure what to make of the possibility a lot of Oregonians cannot produce clean urine.“Given the tight labor market, and legal recreational marijuana up and down the Left Coast, these reports are a bit surprising,” they write. “It may be that the pool of available applicants has shifted; that individuals who can pass drug test already have a job. It may be for insurance‐related reasons that employers are ensuring they have a drug‐free workplace, even if it means monitoring their employees behavior on their own time. However it is possible that these anecdotal reports reflect a broader increase in drug usage that would be both an economic and societal problem.”
More than half of employers drug test job candidates, but many say it’s unfair to test applicants for cannabis in states where it’s legal. Labor law experts warn that even if cannabis is legal in your state, employers can still drug test and fire you if they find THC in your bloodstream. Even if it’s medicinal, the plant is still illegal under federal law. Activists argue states are choosing to end prohibition and workplaces need to respect that and evolve accordingly.The ACLU said drug testing is a violation of personal privacy — and this was before numerous states pass laws legalizing some form of cannabis. It’s not your employer’s business what you do in your spare time if it doesn’t affect your work. Activists say drug testing and punishing cannabis users is big business for some.