Deny Pot Smokers Jobs? Are You High, San Francisco?

Maressa Brown

marijuana plantForget the stereotype that San Francisco is just a bunch of uber-liberal, pot-smoking hippies! A court in the Northern California city ruled last week that "an employer can refuse to hire someone who has ever tested positive for marijuana or other drugs, even if the applicant is now clean and sober."

Specifically, the court said the "one-strike" rule held by the Pacific Maritime Association (which controls hiring for West Coast longshoremen) is constitutional, because the rule was adopted for “safety purposes and did not single out former addicts.”

Okay ... Say, a woman is tested positive for marijuana use at 18. But now, she's 31, and she hasn't touched the stuff since college. How does it make any sense to deny her employment?

To allow someone's "health past" to come back and haunt them in this way is an unnecessarily strict rule for ALL potential job applicants. One strike you're out? That only seems to seem practical for drug use on the job. But not prior!

Also, in the case of addiction to alcohol or hard drugs, aren't we supposed to be encouraging people to stop using? If they had ONE bad drug test that's going to stalk them their whole lives and prevent them from being able to get a job, what the hell incentive do they then have to quit?! That's where it just gets ridiculous to me.

FURTHERMORE ... and this is where I feel like I'm gonna get some pushback, but why pot? Why is this court targeting marijuana use in particular? Especially when medical marijuana is legal in California? If a person had a track record with, say, heroin (err ... no pun intended) then obviously, it might seem more justifiable to make a judgement on them being a risky candidate for a job. But weed is weed. Just about every single Baby Boomer I know could have tested positive for marijuana use at some point in their lives. At MANY points in their lives!

Even if you don't agree with me -- and 44 percent of Americans -- that pot itself is harmless, how about this ... every single person has done something that they regret. They've made unhealthy decisions or been addicted to something ... be it sugar, caffeine, junk food, cigarettes or cocaine. People also quit these things every day! Should it hinder their ability to get a job that they were once engaged in an unhealthy behavior?

I don't think so. This law is totally out-to-lunch and draconian. Snap out of it, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals! What are you, high?

What do you think of this ruling? Should someone be denied employment because they once tested positive for drug use?


Image via Bob Doran/Flickr

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