Though legalization remains the loudest drum beat from cannabis activists, there’s another issue that has recently gained steam: employers discriminating against marijuana users. Just last week, Maine announced that businesses could not punish employees or job applicants for using cannabis during off hours.
Now, a similar movement is on in Wisconsin, where state representative David Bowen plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit employers from urine drug-testing for THC, or excluding applicants who have positive tests for marijuana usage. Bowen clarified the bill would target the public and private sectors, though wouldn’t include businesses where employees operate heavy machinery.
“Consuming THC weeks or months out from a job interview should not disqualify someone from finding employment any more than someone who drank a few beers on another date should be kept out of work,” Bowen told Isthmus in an email. “While I am in favor of the safe legalization and regulation of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use, until that happens, people should not be stigmatized for using a substance whose effect on society is less negative than society’s reaction to it.”
Wisconsin’s southeastern chapter of NORML—the cannabis activism group—strongly supports Bowen’s indicatives. The group has argued that urine testing is extremely ineffective, as someone could fail a drug test up to 10 weeks after using marijuana. That is long after marijuana’s THC psychoactive effects would be active.
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Eric Marsch, an organizer for Wisconsin’s southeastern NORML chapter, believes drug testing “serves only to persecute medical patients and people with alternative (yet increasingly mainstream) lifestyles by denying them the right to employment.” In addition, a failed drug test, he told Isthmus, “can make a skilled and responsible worker unemployable, sending them into a downward spiral of poverty.”