Consider Discontinuing Pre-employment Testing for Marijuana Unless the Position is Funded with Government Funds or is Safety-Sensitive.

Drug Test

Instead, Focus on Performance and Impairment Assessments during Employment.

Implementing performance and impairment assessments can be a crucial step in maintaining workplace safety and productivity, especially in environments where the use of substances like marijuana is legally permitted. Here are some key points and examples of how these assessments can be conducted:

Performance Assessments

Performance assessments focus on evaluating an employee’s ability to perform their job duties effectively. These assessments can be conducted periodically or in response to observed performance issues.


  1. Regular Performance Reviews: Conduct regular performance reviews to assess employees’ job performance. These reviews can include specific metrics related to productivity, quality of work, and adherence to safety protocols.
    • Example: A manufacturing company might review an employee’s output, error rates, and adherence to safety procedures during quarterly performance evaluations.
  2. Task-Specific Evaluations: Evaluate employees on specific tasks that are critical to their job functions. This can help identify any issues related to focus, coordination, or decision-making.
    • Example: A construction company might assess a worker’s ability to operate machinery safely and efficiently as part of their routine evaluations.
  3. Skill Assessments: Periodically test employees on key skills required for their roles. This can help ensure that they maintain the necessary competencies to perform their duties safely and effectively.
    • Example: An IT company might test employees on their ability to troubleshoot technical issues under time constraints to ensure they can handle high-pressure situations.

Impairment Assessments

Impairment assessments aim to determine if an employee is impaired while on duty. These assessments can be conducted if there are reasonable suspicions of impairment or as part of random checks in safety-sensitive positions.


  1. Observation and Documentation: Train supervisors to observe and document signs of impairment, such as slurred speech, unsteady movements, or erratic behavior.
    • Example: A supervisor in a warehouse might document instances where an employee appears disoriented or unable to follow instructions properly.
  2. Field Sobriety Tests: Use field sobriety tests similar to those used by law enforcement to assess physical and cognitive impairment.
    • Example: A transportation company might have trained personnel conduct balance and coordination tests if there is a suspicion of impairment.
  3. Cognitive Testing Tools: Implement cognitive testing tools that measure reaction time, attention, and memory. These tests can be administered through computer-based programs or mobile apps.
    • Example: A healthcare facility might use a computerized test that evaluates an employee’s reaction time and decision-making ability before they start their shift.
  4. Fit-for-Duty Evaluations: Require employees in safety-sensitive roles to undergo fit-for-duty evaluations before starting their shifts. These evaluations can include a combination of physical and cognitive assessments.
    • Example: An airline might require pilots to complete a fit-for-duty evaluation, including reaction time tests and physical coordination checks, before each flight.

Implementing These Assessments

  1. Training: Provide comprehensive training for supervisors and managers on how to conduct performance and impairment assessments. This includes recognizing signs of impairment and understanding how to document observations accurately.
  2. Policies and Procedures: Develop clear policies and procedures outlining when and how these assessments will be conducted. Ensure employees are aware of these policies and the consequences of impairment on the job.
  3. Documentation: Maintain thorough documentation of all assessments and any actions taken based on the results. This can help protect the company in case of legal disputes.
  4. Consistency: Apply assessments consistently across the organization to avoid any claims of discrimination or unfair treatment.

By focusing on performance and impairment assessments, you can create a safer and more productive workplace while navigating the complexities of marijuana legalization.

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Wendy Sellers
Wendy Sellers, known as “The HR Lady®,” is a dedicated HR consultant and business partner of all size businesses, a conference speaker, and management trainer who specializes in understanding the unique culture and goals of organizations in order to improve business outcomes.

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