Legalized Recreational Marijuana and Your Job

As you know, Illinois has legalized recreational marijuana (in certain quantities, and when consumed in certain places) as of January 1. This does not mean you can get high without risking your job.

Marijuana remains in a person’s system for a much longer period of time than alcohol does. If you have a few drinks on a Saturday night, it is unlikely there will be any alcohol in your system by Monday. But if you smoke a joint on a Saturday night, there will probably still be marijuana in your system on Monday, and for most of that week, at least. Unfortunately there is not currently a viable test for marijuana that differentiates between having it in your system and being impaired (“high”).

Our contracts are very specific about when drug testing is allowed, the City can still only test someone under the circumstances outlined in the contract. But if your employer is properly testing you under the contract, and your test comes back positive for marijuana, the fact that marijuana is legal will not save you. Liquor is legal too, and properly administered positive tests for alcohol usually result in termination. The same goes for weed.

Hopefully, a test will be developed soon that will allow people to safely enjoy it as long as they aren’t high at work. Until then, please do not risk your career.