While the Dutch government does not fund the entire program, it is the primary sponsor. Critiques may complain that the government is not only enabling but fueling alcoholism. Proponents counter that the program offers meaning and purpose to its participants’ lives. They also point out the savings generated by fewer arrests exceeds the cost of providing people with beer, cigarettes, and food in exchange for their services.
What’s your take? Will this strategy attract unemployed alcoholics to Amsterdam just as the country’s decriminalization of marijuana has attracted pot users as a Dutch tourist industry? Or is it a creative, humane way to reduce both litter and panhandling in one fell swoop?
So what does this mean for employers wanting to maintain drug-free workplaces?
Fortunately, that question was settled before the recreational use of marijuana became legal in Colorado and Washington State. With medicinal marijuana having already been legalized in twenty states plus Washington, DC ,it’s not surprising that this question had cropped up in courts across the country well before Green Wednesday. Those courts have upheld the rights employers to terminate employees who have tested positive for marijuana based on the fact that marijuana use is still a violation of federal law. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) prohibits the possession and improper use of any controlled substance except in a manner authorized by the CSA. It categorizes marijuana as Schedule I drug.
In fact, one of the most recent court cases, Curry v. MillerCoors, Inc., was heard in Colorado. In this case, Federal Judge John Kane “rejected a terminated employee’s claim that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his disability when it discharged him for testing positive for marijuana.”
For now employers in all states, those which have legalized marijuana and those which have not, may continue to require not only applicants but employees to take drug tests and have the right to dismiss those employees who test positive. Even so, employers should take certain precautions to minimize risks. On its webpage summarizing the ramifications of Curry v MillerCoors, Inc., The LEH Law Group offers employers some useful takeaways which include:
Having a written drug-testing policy
Including a policy provision regarding non-cooperation
Applying drug-testing policies consistently
Not asking employees if their doctor has recommended medicinal marijuana use