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Do Dispensaries Drug Test Employees?

The use and production of marijuana products (especially for medical purposes) is now legal in many countries, but the topic remains controversial. Proponents of using marijuana point out, however, that there are many very dangerous and addictive substances such as opiates, alcohol and tobacco products that are perfectly legal but nevertheless more harmful than marijuana.

Once marijuana is legalized in a specific country or state, a supply chain vacuum develops. After all, the marijuana needs to be grown, processed and sold. It is no wonder then that dispensaries selling various marijuana products have mushroomed.

In many cases the laws legalizing the sale and use of marijuana products have gaps that have created a number of interesting dilemmas. One such dilemma is the question about whether the owners or management of marijuana dispensaries are obliged to drug test employees or not. This topic has several facets.

dispensaries drug test

What Does the Law Say about Drug-Testing Employees?

There is no law that obliges employers to drug test their employees. However, most countries have strict laws allowing employers to maintain a drug-free workplace and many employers have a drug-testing program. But this is not an open and shut case. In many countries there are equally strict laws protecting the privacy of individuals. There are those that argue that enforced drug-testing policies infringe on these privacy laws. The jury is still out on this one.

But what about budtenders? (Employees at marijuana dispensaries.) Shouldn’t they be knowledgeable about the products that they sell and how on earth will they become knowledgeable if they haven’t tried them? This is a thorny issue and there are no hard and fast answers. Many marijuana dispensary owners avoid the issue by expecting their employees to use marijuana only in their free time. Many others maintain a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

When all is said and done, however, the fact remains that all employers have the right to maintain drug-free workplaces and this includes the owners of marijuana dispensaries.

Why Would Any Marijuana Dispensary Enforce a Drug-Testing Policy?

Dispensary owners and bar owners face a similar dilemma. On the one hand they want their employees to be knowledgeable about the products that they sell. Some bar owners allow their bartenders to drink on the job. It makes them talkative, relaxed and often even entertaining. On the other hand, no bar owner can afford that an employee becomes intoxicated to the point where he cannot perform his job any longer. The same is true for dispensary owners.

Marijuana holds many positive benefits that may be beneficial for their jobs as budtenders.  Among the potentially positive side effects are an increased sense of light, touch and smell. Many users become much more relaxed, more talkative and they feel more confident. They are more creative and sociable. These are all positive attributes for salespeople.

There is a very dark side, however. Sometimes marijuana users suffer from delusions, paranoia, panic and high anxiety levels. These are most certainly not the attributes one wants an employee to display.

Is There a Solution for This Dilemma?

To drug-test or not drug-test is a dilemma that has been the topic of many lively online discussions and articles. It seems as if dispensary owners have only two options.

Option one is to ban the use of marijuana products and to enforce a policy of a totally drug-free workplace. However, just like employers may ban smoking or drinking at the workplace, this ban cannot be enforced when the employee is not at the workplace. But what if an employee consumes large quantities of alcohol prior to reporting for work? This is why some employers enforce regular drug testing. You simply cannot forbid someone to use marijuana in his free time, but you can expect him to report for work in a sober state and fit to perform his duties.

Option two is to allow the use of marijuana at the workplace but in a controlled and regulated manner. Just like a bar owner may allow his barmen to consume, say, two drinks per shift, a dispensary owner may limit the consumption of his budtenders. It looks as if most dispensary owners follow this policy.

There are some lone voices in the vast jungle of the Internet that propose another solution to this dilemma. Their advice to dispensary owners is to avoid future problems by adopting an intelligent hiring policy. Think about it from the dispensary owner’s point of view. You want a budtender that is knowledgeable about the products that he will be selling but you definitely do not want a budtender that is stoned all the time. Hiring a specialist to conduct initial interviews can be a very good investment. These specialists are qualified to conduct psychometric and other tests designed to provide a profile of the applicant. If he is prone to addiction, the tests will point it out. If he is a habitual liar, the test will show. Whether the applicant uses marijuana products or not is not the issue. The issue is this: is he a responsible person that knows how to use everything in moderation.

Reality Check: Marijuana Dispensaries Are Not Seedy Joints

In countries where the use of marijuana has been legalized, the purchase of marijuana products are no longer furtive transactions conducted in secret and far away from preying eyes. Oh no, marijuana dispensaries have become respectable and legitimate businesses with a respectable clientele. Budtenders, too, need to be respectable, authoritative and sensitive to the needs of their clients. They cannot fulfill this role if they are floating on a marijuana cloud somewhere far away. At the same time, one may ask: can they cater to customer needs if they do not use the products themselves? Moderation, that seems to be the answer.

A Final Word

So, do dispensaries drug test their employees? Some do but most don’t. But that is not really the issue at all. The issue is whether budtenders can responsibly tend to the needs of their customers. Whether they use marijuana products or not is not part of the equation at all. Productivity, professionalism and efficiency; that is the issue!