Minnesotan workers still subject to employment THC testing

Sep 22, 2023

Earlier in May, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed House File 100, a bill allowing the recreational use of cannabis for adults aged 21 years and older starting Aug. 1. Furthermore, in 2022, Minnesota had already legalized the sale and consumption of edibles containing small amounts of hemp-derived THC. Currently, pre-employment drug screening is restricted, while employers are required to update their drug and alcohol policies for when reasonable suspicion of impairment can lead to discipline or firing of an employee.

 However, according to a recent analysis by MinnPost, while employees who use recreational cannabis were given some protection in House File 100, they can still get fired or disciplined for cannabis and hemp-derived products use or possession at work, while employers can still require testing, both pre-employment and post-accident, for a wide range of jobs.

 In addition, drug testing and workplace policy will not be subject to change for employees working in transportation, public safety, and safety sensitive positions, for which random testing is still allowed.  In addition, random testing is still allowed for professional athletes.

 “The big question for employers broadly is what areas of their drug-testing policy have to change from before,” said Lauryn Schothorst, director of workplace management and policy for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, in her interview with MinnPost. “There’s this swirl going around about these technicalities. And most employers are trying to figure out whether they test for THC at all anymore, is it necessary, is the presence of marijuana the issue or are you looking at behaviors?”

 According to Rep. Zack Stephenson of Minnesota House of Representatives, who sponsored the bill, he wanted to protect the right of individuals to use cannabis and hemp products, but also that the policy on workers and workplaces centered on safety.

“We need to make sure workplaces are safe places, especially in safety-sensitive positions, where people are doing things that are dangerous or others’ safety is at issue, such as children and vulnerable adults,” he said. “It’s going to depend on the job and what they’re doing,” Stephenson said. “Obviously someone operating heavy equipment, that is a safety-sensitive position.”

House File 100 has banned pre-employment testing for THC for many workers in the state while existing state law already prohibited employers from hiring applicants or disciplining workers if they “engaged in the use or enjoyment of lawful consumable products” off work premises and outside of work hours; however, stricter rules and laws apply to workers in safety-sensitive positions, including police officers and firefighters.