Marijuana testing by Colorado businesses has slowly declined over the past two years as 7 percent dropped the drug from pre-employment tests while 3 percent removed it from all drug tests.
The results of a December survey by the Mountain States Employers Council marks a shift from its 2014 survey — the year recreational consumption of pot became legal — when one in five employers reported implementing more stringent drug-testing policies. But this doesn’t necessarily mean businesses are OK with their employees smoking weed.
“It’s because we have low unemployment,” said Curtis Graves, an attorney with the Mountain States Employers Council. “They may prefer a zero-tolerance approach. From a business perspective, they just can’t afford to be as choosy now.”
He speculated that some employers would resume testing for marijuana if the unemployment rate ticked up to 6 or 7 percent from 3 percent in December.
MSEC sent out surveys to 2,933 businesses and received 609 back, almost double the sample size of the 2014 survey, when 1,648 companies were polled and 334 responded.
About 10 percent of companies in the Denver and Boulder areas — considered a single region in the survey — dropped marijuana from their pre-employment tests and 2 percent removed the drug it from all drug testing. About 9 percent of the companies from Pueblo that responded omitted marijuana from pre-employment screening.
In resort areas, 8 percent of businesses removed marijuana from all drug tests, including pre-employment.
Drug testing in general is down across Colorado, the exception being Pueblo, Graves said. Across the state, 62 percent of businesses test for drugs, down from 77 percent that tested in 2014. The Denver and Boulder region had the smallest percentage of businesses that drug tested at 57 percent. Pueblo had the most with 89 percent.
The industries that had the highest percentage of businesses that drug test employees were mining, utilities/transportation/communication and construction. The industries with the lowest percentage were insurance, financial/real estate and software/hardware.
The most common times for tests were pre-employment and when there was reasonable suspicion of use. A majority of the employers that drug tested also did so after a workplace accident.