Pre-Employ Blog

Smell of Marijuana on Employee Not Enough to Enforce Drug Testing

Posted by admin on June 17, 2013

A recent incident in which an employee refused a drug test after a supervisor smelled marijuana on the worker's truck has led to interesting insight on current drug testing laws. The worker at the Halifax Streets Department in Nova Scotia, Canada was asked to take the test, but refused to, saying he was a recreational marijuana user and the results would come up positive. There was no evidence of drug use or inability to perform necessary functions, bringing about the question of whether or not the laborer should have to submit to a test purely based on his car's odor.


After refusing the test, the worker was sent to a substance abuse professional, however he refrained from answering any questions about his recreational use of marijuana. The Halifax Streets Department subsequently fired the employee for not cooperating with the city and violating the HRM Substance Abuse Prevention Policy. The employer reinstated the employee shortly after firing him, but the city went to court to fight the employer's choice.

While it is necessary for organizations to ensure each employee is acting in a safe and legal manner at work, the conviction was made with weak evidence, according to the court. The accusation and drug test were not deemed reasonable actions, and the court found the employee was within his boundaries to respond in the way he did. The court also decided the safety concerns the city voiced did not warrant a mandatory drug screening.

Companies that utilize drug testing to ensure worker safety and compliance should be aware of the rules and regulations that surround the policy. While the action can ensure a safe work atmosphere, there are certain measures employers need to take when enforcing the law. Past occurrences, such as the one with the Halifax Streets Department, show the potential negative consequences false or unsubstantial accusations can have.

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Topics: Drug Testing