Shh! Many companies dropping marijuana drug testing – still common for Louisiana's safety-sensitive jobs
Many employers around the country, desperate for workers, are quietly dropping marijuana from the drug tests they require of prospective employees. That’s not the case so far in Louisiana, with its safety-sensitive job sectors adhering to federal regulations and their own standards.
In Louisiana, which does not allow recreational marijuana use but has a relatively tightly regulated medical marijuana program just starting up, drug testing continues to be a mainstay at the types of firms that have traditionally mandated it for employees, observers say.
“We have not seen in any large degree Louisiana employers … making significant adjustments to their drug-testing policies in reaction to the current trend in some states toward legalization,” said David Whitaker, a labor and employment attorney with Kean Miller in New Orleans.
Many maritime employers, a significant industry in Louisiana, have to adhere to federal rules requiring drug testing, Whitaker said. The federal Department of Transportation requires drug tests for many truck drivers and others in transport fields.
Ultimately, “safety-sensitive” occupations will likely continue drug testing regardless of its legality, he said.
Where the practice might die down in the future, he said, is at companies that have used drug testing as a general vetting tool to determine if a would-be employee broke the law. Still, most marijuana use remains illegal in the Bayou State.
“The sort of companies that have traditionally drug tested have not altered their policies in Louisiana,” said Kevin Caldwell, head of the marijuana advocacy group CommonSense NOLA. “However, we do have to remember there are a lot of companies that do not drug test. It is very expensive and in general can be easily worked around.”
Marijuana testing — a fixture at