Caesars And Others Dropping Employee Marijuana Testing

Written By Katie Callahan on May 8, 2018
drug test paperwork with vial

At the realization that marijuana testing could thin out the casino hiring pool in Las Vegas, some businesses are removing marijuana from the list of drug tests for potential employees.

Caesars Entertainment dropped marijuana drug testing. A Caesars spokesperson told KTNV that they would drug test employees only if there was a reason to believe they used drugs. Comparatively, MGM Resorts still tests for marijuana as part of its hiring process.

The Associated Press found that the casino will only test for marijuana among employees who are working in transportation in Las Vegas.

James Reidy, a New Hampshire employment lawyer, told AP that employers increasingly have to think about whether the jobs they are hiring for require the test.

“Employers are saying, ‘We have a thin labor pool,” Reidy said to the Las Vegas Sun. “‘So are we going to test and exclude a whole group of people? Or can we assume some risks, as long as they’re not impaired at work?’”

Public pot acceptability up

Because many companies remain concerned about their public image and acceptability around marijuana and its testing, Reidy said this could be the “new don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Even so, the public perception of marijuana is changing as it becomes legalized. A Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans support legalizing pot, the highest percentage in a half-century.

Thoran Towler, CEO of the Nevada Association of Employers, said that recreational marijuana dispensaries are now as common, or at least similar looking, to Apple stores. Recreational use is legal in Nevada, but that is not even the primary concern of employers.

Towler said that executives from his 400-member group still wonder where they can find employees. He posits that roughly one of every 10 members have stopped testing for marijuana because there seems to be no other option.

“They say, ‘I have to get people on the casino floor or make the beds, and I can’t worry about what they’re doing in their spare time,’” Towler said.

Marijuana use wide among employees

More and more, employers try to expand their hiring pool because of the record number of job openings. Across the country, in places like New Hampshire, Michigan, and California, employers realize that marijuana testing limits options.

Colorado continues to allow businesses to fire employees who test positive; Maine barred companies from firing or blocking potential hires from marijuana use outside of work.

The Employers Council in Denver found that 10 percent of employers dropped marijuana screening in 2016.

This practice, over 30 years old now, may have become outdated as marijuana becomes legalized and widely acceptable.

AP reported that Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island employers have lost lawsuits for taking back offers or firing workers who tested positive for cannabis; the courts only this year changed their stance to favor employees.

The Society for Human Resource Management found that 57 percent of companies conduct drug tests. However, that does not indicate if marijuana is included in that testing.

Another potential influence: low unemployment rates among those who have not graduated high school (5.5%). More businesses are hiring people without high school diplomas.

Time and competition across businesses will tell if businesses will change their practice into the future.

Katie Callahan Avatar
Written by
Katie Callahan

Katie Callahan is a freelance journalist, blogger and copywriter who covers everything from poker, business, education and politics to construction, startups and cybersecurity.

View all posts by Katie Callahan
Privacy Policy