Colorado and Washington rejoice!
September 4, 2013 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Justice Department Announces Update to Marijuana Enforcement Policy. For states such as Colorado and Washington that have enacted laws to authorize the production, distribution and possession of marijuana, the Department expects these states to establish strict regulatory schemes that protect the eight federal interests identified in the Department’s guidance.
posted by evil otto (83 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Everyone I know who works on this issue is both happy and wary. And no one believes that US Attorney Melinda Haag is going to do anything other than whatever she wants, memo or no memo.
posted by rtha at 2:58 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


And this policy lasts right up until the next administration. Sucker bet.
posted by eriko at 3:01 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


> But if any of the stated harms do materialize—either despite a strict regulatory scheme or because of the lack of one—federal prosecutors will act aggressively to bring individual prosecutions focused on federal enforcement priorities and the Department may challenge the regulatory scheme themselves in these states.

I can't help but read this as "But in the event that it appears as though War On Drugs funding may be cut, federal prosecutors will act aggressively to ensure that the money train keeps rolling."
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:02 PM on September 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


These are the same enforcement priorities that have traditionally driven the Department’s efforts in this area.
...
This guidance continues that policy.
...
if any of the stated harms do materialize—either despite a strict regulatory scheme or because of the lack of one—federal prosecutors will act aggressively to bring individual prosecutions focused on federal enforcement priorities and the Department may challenge the regulatory scheme themselves in these states.

I dunno... it doesn't really sound all that new, but maybe that's just my reading of it.
posted by GuyZero at 3:03 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


What are the traditional 8 areas that they focus on?
posted by Hactar at 3:04 PM on September 4, 2013


Isn't this what happened before the fall of Prohibition? From what I remember, the Federal Government just sort of washed their hands of the matter for all but the most egregious offenses and told the states that it was their responsibility to enforce the rest. Then the states didn't really do much enforcing because it cost money and the non-trafficking/non-violent violations were too low priority to divert tax money to.

I may or may not have that totally wrong.

What are the traditional 8 areas that they focus on?

8 areas outlined in this memo:

1. Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors
2. Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
4. Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
6. Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use
7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
8. Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
posted by griphus at 3:08 PM on September 4, 2013 [17 favorites]


What are the traditional 8 areas that they focus on?

Teamwork, insight, brutality, male enhancement, handshakefulness, and play hard
posted by Merzbau at 3:09 PM on September 4, 2013 [61 favorites]


Or, you know, what he said.
posted by Merzbau at 3:09 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rejoicing is too strong of a reaction. Cautious optimism is a better course of action.

Although it is wonderful that things are improving in Washington and Colorado, this doesn't provide any remedy for people needlessly incarcerated, property seized, or lives ended under the 'war on drugs'.

The most critical thing now is to convince Republicans that legalization is a states rights issue. If the Ds and Rs can get into a fight over who is more pro-legalization, then the stupidity may end in our lifetime.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:09 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


What are the traditional 8 areas that they focus on?

I was wondering that as well. Off the top of my head I can only name Black, Brown, Mocha, Olive....
posted by radwolf76 at 3:10 PM on September 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


One bad thing about our federal system of government is that rights get applied in a crazy quilt way. Marijuana, gay rights, abortion, they are all the same. Something that is perfectly legal in one state is illegal and could even land you in prison in another. Then you add the federal government deciding to enforce or not enforce federal laws that conflict with the laws of some but not all of the states and you have a real mess.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:16 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wish they would throw in a #9

9. Preventing enormous wildfires caused by lazy, ignorant pot growers
posted by GuyZero at 3:17 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


And this policy lasts right up until the next administration. Sucker bet.

Kinda funny--in a democracy if you want these policies to continue, you personally have to do the heavy lifting and vote for candidates and convince others to do so.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:19 PM on September 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


9 Preventing [REDACTED MASSIVE SPOILER FROM ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK]
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:19 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I want to believe that we are moving forward.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:20 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


GuyZero: "I wish they would throw in a #9

9. Preventing enormous wildfires caused by lazy, ignorant pot growers
"

7. Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and

Although I'd be happy with preventing local news from repeating local yokel's assertions that all wildfires are caused by lazy, ignorant pot growers which seems to going on with Yosemite regardless of any actual evidence.
posted by Big_B at 3:20 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think the Rim Fire (unless it turns out to have been caused by something else) will be a strong argument the next time legalization is on the ballot in CA. It's not hard to make the case that there's no profit motive in those dangerous covert farms if you can do it out in the open - just get in line with the rest of the Central Valley for water.
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:21 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Evidence? Haven't you heard of truthiness?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:22 PM on September 4, 2013


Seems to me the feds themselves currently, utterly fail in the most grotesque manner possible to fulfill mandate #2 (preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.). They don't perform well on several other points, too.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:22 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the Federal Government's policies on drugs has always been directed toward promoting these 8 interests, they kinda fucked that up very, very badly and should not point fingers.
posted by Hoopo at 3:25 PM on September 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


9. Preventing enormous wildfires caused by lazy, ignorant pot growers

Maybe it's just me but I've noticed the number of fatal still explosions has gone way down since 1933
posted by theodolite at 3:36 PM on September 4, 2013 [45 favorites]


And this policy lasts right up until the next administration. Sucker bet.
-
Kinda funny--in a democracy if you want these policies to continue, you personally have to do the heavy lifting and vote for candidates and convince others to do so.


And yet, we can expect with absolute certainty to be yelled at to vote for the lesser of two evils if an anti-pot Democrat is on the ticket.

I disagree this isn't a significant move though, the more entrenched the industry is the much bigger political headache it will be to resume enforcement. This is one of the best moves Obama has made and I'm glad he's continuing to make progress on this issue. It's a major one for me, but even on major issues I just demand progress rather than overnight massive change.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:38 PM on September 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


Maybe it's just me but I've noticed the number of fatal still explosions has gone way down since 1933

And note that distillation is still extremely tightly regulated, to the point that it is only legally feasible on a fairly large scale*. And yet you don't see much illegal home distillation. So legalization + regulation worked pretty well in that case.

* A fact that has much more to do with taxation than safety, especially since even freeze distillation is illegal without a license. The same would likely be true of marijuana in the event of federal legalization: easily regulated and taxes large scale operations would be permitted but growing at home would remain illegal.
posted by jedicus at 3:44 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


2. Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
3. Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;


Wouldn't it be awesome if they had some traditional interest in applying those kinds of strictures to guns?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:46 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wouldn't it be awesome if they had some traditional interest in applying those kinds of strictures to guns?

Well, I'm not going to say something dumb like federal law enforcement agents are perfect, but I think they actually do try pretty hard to apply those two points to guns. Illegally owned firearms are confiscated all the time. I'm not sure why you'd imply they're not trying to do so.
posted by GuyZero at 3:50 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


And yet you don't see much illegal home distillation.
Sounds like you've never visited Kentucky.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:51 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]




Yeah, it's important not to conflate bad laws with bad enforcement when it comes to guns.

This [drug policy] is actually a nice instance of saner laws and political policies trickling down into saner enforcement.
posted by kiltedtaco at 3:56 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


And yet you don't see much illegal home distillation.

I can't decide if this is a really subtle joke about methanol poisoning or not.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:58 PM on September 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


Illegal pot farm probably didn't cause Rim Fire, official says. 'That was only one of many rumors.'

Interesting, I hadn't seen the update. I find it hard to say I would really prefer any one particular cause over another here.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:02 PM on September 4, 2013


2. Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;


Oh, I hadn't realized they were in favor of legalization.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:23 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


You know, I supported medical marijuana in California...

And I would be willing to support full legalization, if only there was a requirement for people to smoke only in non-public places. It's already a big problem here in S.F., especially for those of us who are allergic and just don't want the goddamn contact high.

The marijuana users out there have had no problem what-so-ever taking advantage of California voters, who voted strictly for legitimate medical uses. Instead, everyone has a bullshit prescription, and everyone is growing it seems, and many of them sell illegally. You may have heard of the Rim Fire recently... but what reportedly caused it? Pot growers, taking advantage of California, then selling out-of-state.

I swear, when I am watching TV in my front room, I have pot smoke drifting in from off the street, right into my windows, or coming in from the hallway outside. Pot smokers are less considerate -- and feel less constrained in their habits -- than tobacco smokers.

So no... I don't want pot smokers on the sidewalks, or in the parks, or at the bus stop, or outside the nightclubs, or in the bar, or anywhere else I go, thankyouverymuch stoner dudes! Keep your disgusting addictions to yourselves!
posted by markkraft at 4:27 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


So no... I don't want pot smokers on the sidewalks, or in the parks, or at the bus stop, or outside the nightclubs, or in the bar...

Coincidentally, that's a pretty good list of places to (theoretically) get fined for having an open container or smoking cigarettes in NYC.
posted by griphus at 4:33 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


And this policy lasts right up until the next administration. Sucker bet.

Did you forget you were on Metafilter? 'Round these parts we don't take too kindly to people suggesting that there might actually be substantive policies between the major political parties.
posted by graphnerd at 4:44 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dominic Holden had a good analysis of the change in The Stranger.

"By standing back and letting Washington and Colorado implement these new laws, Obama has declared that the US drug war is not mandatory. If a state can present a comprehensive legal framework as an alternative—an alternative to the abstinence-only model—the president is saying, in essence, he'll let the states try it.

States can opt out of the drug war, in other words.

This is radical."
posted by gingerbeer at 4:51 PM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


contact high

Jesus, is your commute through a giant hotbox or something?
posted by Hoopo at 4:54 PM on September 4, 2013 [14 favorites]


Where can one buy pot so potent that the second hand smoke can get someone high from outside their living room?
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 4:58 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read the memo and to me it all looks completely sensible. I can't think of anything more appropriate to come out of the administration given the current situation. To me this is just sheer good news.
posted by fingerbang at 5:06 PM on September 4, 2013


Where can one buy pot so potent that the second hand smoke can get someone high from outside their living room?

Hagbard Celine, one presumes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:07 PM on September 4, 2013 [17 favorites]


And I would be willing to support full legalization, if only there was a requirement for people to smoke only in non-public places.
There is, at least in Seattle.
You may have heard of the Rim Fire recently... but what reportedly caused it? Pot growers, taking advantage of California, then selling out-of-state.
You might want to re-read this thread.
I swear, when I am watching TV in my front room, I have pot smoke drifting in from off the street, right into my windows, or coming in from the hallway outside. Pot smokers are less considerate -- and feel less constrained in their habits -- than tobacco smokers.
I don't need to swear, but I have the inverse experience to you. I work from home in a condo. Several of my neighbors are tobacco smokers, and some are cannabis smokers (I live in Washington state). About 30% of the time, there is a strong odor of tobacco smoke wafting into my home office. I can count the number of instances of cannabis smoke that I've smelled in the last three years on one hand.

As far as I can tell, my cannabis-smoking neighbors do it the same way I do - one toke every few hours, rarely more than four times in one day. Mostly on the weekends. The tobacco smokers seem intent on emptying a carton of cigarettes every time they light up.

But the point stands - if cannabis is going to be legalized, cannabis smokers need to be aware of the non-smokers around them. Ironically, the requirement that you *must* smoke at home may be part of the problem. If there were legal cannabis clubs where you could hang out with your buddies and pass a pipe/bong/vape around, then that would eliminate a lot of the need for smoking in residential buildings or in parks. At least for urban residents.
Where can one buy pot so potent that the second hand smoke can get someone high from outside their living room?
If you know what it is like to be high on cannabis, it is remarkably easy to get high without smoking at all. I can meditate my way into exactly the same head-space that a bong hit takes me to. The difference is that it takes effort to maintain that state while meditating. I wouldn't be surprised if people who smoked pot earlier in their life are reminded of that experience by the smell and then get into a self-reinforcing loop that takes them there purely along a psychological path.

On the other hand, tolerance breaks are a real thing. If you haven't smoked in five years and take one hit off a joint, you will almost certainly be deep in outer space. A little second-hand smoke might actually be enough to give you a nice (or unpleasant) buzz.

But lets try to figure out how to solve this in a civil way: Legalize and develop a polite and respectful culture.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:08 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises

But how will taxes then be collected? *rim shot*

solve this in a civil way: Legalize and develop a polite and respectful culture.

Don't forget the sin taxes in that plan.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:23 PM on September 4, 2013


Maybe it's just me but I've noticed the number of fatal still explosions has gone way down since 1933

And don't forget kids that 72% of all claims are made up.

(AKA - got proof of this drop? Got it normalized for better health care?)
posted by rough ashlar at 5:26 PM on September 4, 2013


I think, as long as we can get the heads of the DEA, ATF and the wonderful Attorney's General Prosecutors on board (and they often seem surprisingly independent of mind) this might have a shot at working.
I don't partake, but I'm all for this.
posted by evilDoug at 5:35 PM on September 4, 2013


Maybe it's just me but I've noticed the number of fatal still explosions has gone way down since 1933

And don't forget kids that 72% of all claims are made up.

(AKA - got proof of this drop? Got it normalized for better health care?)
posted by rough ashlar at 2:26 PM on September 4 [+] [!]


Whoosh.gif
posted by Sebmojo at 6:19 PM on September 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Where can one buy pot so potent that the second hand smoke can get someone high from outside their living room?"

Well, to be fair, my living room is on the first floor, overlooking a nightclub which regularly plays host to Dark Star Orchestra... but still, it's pretty common to have people hanging outside our apartment, smoking pot on most any night, really.

But oh, the nights with the Deadheads packed outside are THE WORST... and being trapped in the rain at a bus stop with someone lighting up right nearby is no thrill either.
posted by markkraft at 6:39 PM on September 4, 2013


One bad thing about our federal system of government is that rights get applied in a crazy quilt way.

This is a feature, not a bug, because it means that activists can roll these things out sooner in places that are ready for them, then use success in one state as momentum for the next campaign. If it weren't for federalism we'd have no legal pot anywhere and who knows where we'd be on gay marriage.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:55 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Loll contact high hahahahaha anyway no thats not a thing Andy Rooney.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:56 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


get this the real pot heads don't even smoke it anymore its all wax and shatter and edibles
posted by headless at 7:05 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


markkraft, you are the mayor of squaresville
posted by clockzero at 7:09 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fuck it, we need some wins. I'm declaring this a win, please don't dissuade me.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:12 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Smoke em if you got em, State Legislatures.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:13 PM on September 4, 2013


Mars Saxman: "One bad thing about our federal system of government is that rights get applied in a crazy quilt way.

This is a feature, not a bug, because it means that activists can roll these things out sooner in places that are ready for them, then use success in one state as momentum for the next campaign. If it weren't for federalism we'd have no legal pot anywhere and who knows where we'd be on gay marriage.
"

It's not a feature when we become ever more balkanized between differing ideologies. Our goals are the same but the increasingly uneven application frustrates my sense of fairness.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:31 PM on September 4, 2013


That is one sternly worded offer of surrender. The War on Drugs is over, kids.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:38 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hactar: "What are the traditional 8 areas that they focus on"

Fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:52 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Probably good politics too, since Colorado is looking a bit pinkish nowadays and at risk of getting two Democratic state senators recalled over gun control laws. Not the right time to flex federal muscle over state initiatives, methinks.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:04 PM on September 4, 2013


That is one sternly worded offer of surrender. The War on Drugs is over, kids.

Yet the fighting will rage on for quite some time, and the casualties won't know the difference.


get this the real pot heads don't even smoke it anymore its all wax and shatter and edibles

And vaping! I'd be surprised if the current craze for ecigs isn't driving some of that. Or vice versa?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:09 PM on September 4, 2013


That is one sternly worded offer of surrender. The War on Drugs is over, kids.

Yet the fighting will rage on for quite some time, and the casualties won't know the difference.


I understand, but for me this does feel really momentous and something we should be celebrating. Yes the drug wars will continue but I wasn't even sure I would even see this in my own lifetime. There has been a genuine change of heart, a tipping point and a lot of people will be spared the pain of jail because of it. We should be out partying.
posted by fingerbang at 8:40 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


i wonder if someone will make the argument that pre-employment drug tests for marijuana should be disregarded in these states because it's legal.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:43 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I also liked how they rightly laid blame on Congress in determining that marijuana is a dangerous drug. "Don't blame us, blame Congress."

Where can one buy pot so potent that the second hand smoke can get someone high from outside their living room?

Actually getting high, I'm not sure about. But stinking to high hell? All over the place, apparently. I have been smelling it more and more in the last few years. Stuff that oozes stank despite being well sealed in evidence bags, and merely having been walked through a hallway.
posted by gjc at 8:53 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


5. Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;

i'm sure you could link firearms to the production of just about everything.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:54 PM on September 4, 2013


"And yet you don't see much illegal home distillation."

Sounds like you've never visited Kentucky.


Moonshiners still exist, but I suspect that unlicensed stills produce far less alcohol than legal home brewing and winemaking.
posted by jedicus at 9:50 PM on September 4, 2013


The War on Drugs is over, kids.

The war on one particular drug, maybe.
posted by empath at 10:56 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I went to Bumbershoot (a large music and arts festival in Seattle), and I could smell pot all over the place. And not only that, everyone seemed to be smoking the dank horrid stuff that smells like moldy dog fur after it got doused with a skunk. Even Allen Stone noticed the smell when he was performing on stage.

My allergist recommended that, because I'm allergic to pot, that I take a bandana, moiston it with water, and wear it as a filter when I run into allergens. So now, in Seattle, I look like I'm either going to rob a bank, or spontaneously stage an Anarchist Blac Bloc demonstration when the pot starts to annoy me. Oh, the *stares* I get. (Yes, I'm working on getting more mask like masks, but I have to order them first. The bandana is a good stop gap.)
posted by spinifex23 at 11:25 PM on September 4, 2013


"Moonshiners still exist, but I suspect that unlicensed stills produce far less alcohol than legal home brewing and winemaking."
posted by jedicus at 12:50 AM on September 5

Eh, 'shine is a lot more common than most people think it is. I'm not particularly well connected in those circles, and I'm pretty confident that the various sources of about 1000 gallons a week of high quality, tax free corn whiskey (made entirely for sale) exist within about 2 hours driving time of my northeast Florida home. The costs of ingredients plus energy needed to run stills hasn't always favored moonshiners, but the recent drop in propane and natural gas prices has helped a lot, and has helped the large scale producers more than the small.

Drug culture seizure laws support law enforcement on an above the line basis, in nearly every federal, state and local jurisdiction in the U.S. Whisky culture operates a lot more subtly, where it operates in volume, and what it pays for the blind eye of justice to remain reasonably blind is generally mitigated by more complex and personal relationships than those established by drug growers and suppliers. There isn't a lot of bulk 'shine coming in from Mexico or Canada, or other foreign origins these days, and 'shiners learned long ago not raise gun barrels on Johnny Law.
posted by paulsc at 11:40 PM on September 4, 2013


I'm not sure why you'd imply they're not trying to do so.

Serious question: are there any federal penalties for illegal interstate transport of guns? There are, for instance, specific laws against interstate flight to avoid prosecution and interstate transport of minors. Confiscation is not a huge deterrent, and if you look at the effort expended to make drug dealing profitable stop drug dealing, there's not really a comparable effort to end the illegal gun trade. I know this,because I live in a strict-gun-law state, and the are frequent stories in local media about how huge percentages of the guns on the street here are bought legally in other states. There are no stories about joint task-forces hunting down gun transporters. Occasionally, there's a story about somebody being busted for it, but it's always incidental to some other investigation or completely accidental.


I'm working on getting more mask like masks, but I have to order them first.

I assume the N95 masks that people got during the SARS outbreak would serve. You can buy them at a drugstore.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:37 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Congratulations Colorado and Washington...and things are looking up for other sane states...but there seems to be little hope for those of us in the Old Dominion any time soon. We're still apparently jailing thousands of people for simple possession every year...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:34 AM on September 5, 2013


If you live in California or Washington, the odds are pretty good that most of your neighbors are vaping anyway, so you don't smell anything unless you're standing in front of them, and then it's very faint.

There is no particular scientific basis for extending the known risks of second-hand tobacco smoke as a priori a problem with second hand marijuana smoke. Indeed, the science I've seen says even *first hand* marijuana smoke is orders of magnitude less dangerous than tobacco smoke, in part because pot smokers consume so much less burned material by volume, and in part because the two materials are chemically quite different.
posted by spitbull at 5:37 AM on September 5, 2013


Also, among my Ozark friends (who proudly self-identify as hillbillies), growing weed and making shine (still very much alive, as noted above) are not mutually exclusive passions, at all.
posted by spitbull at 5:41 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dr. Sanjay Gupta: "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:53 AM on September 5, 2013


i wonder if someone will make the argument that pre-employment drug tests for marijuana should be disregarded in these states because it's legal.

Just because it's legal doesn't mean that employers will, or should, disregard it. It's still a marker that tells something about the person they're hiring, and generally speaking, it's not saying something good about the applicant.
posted by eas98 at 7:38 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just because it's legal doesn't mean that employers will, or should, disregard it. It's still a marker that tells something about the person they're hiring, and generally speaking, it's not saying something good about the applicant.

There are a lot of things which correlate with employee aptitude which employers are not allowed to investigate; if marijuana is legalised, then allowing employers to test employees for marijuana use would open the door to allowing them to, say, scan employees' credit records for alcohol purchases and sack those who have been drinking. Or, indeed, allowing employers to inspect their employees' homes (as Ford and Disney did early in the 20th century), or a modern equivalent such as allowing employers access to their employees' personal email/text messaging (after all, if one of your employees is taking drugs/having an affair/associating with unsavoury characters, it could impact your bottom line).

Employees aren't (yet) feudal chattels whose rights trickle down from the masters under whose protection they are.
posted by acb at 8:58 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's still a marker that tells something about the person they're hiring, and generally speaking, it's not saying something good about the applicant.

Can you be more specific?
posted by rtha at 9:15 AM on September 5, 2013


Just to follow up on the above derail (which I helped instigate, sorry):

Federal officials: Hunter caused huge wildfire near Yosemite (Not a grow op as we previously reported!)
posted by Big_B at 10:33 AM on September 5, 2013


Well I'm sure that correction will be widely reported.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sadly probably not. I mean, good that there's less illegal grow ops than reported by cranky fire chiefs, too bad for the guy who set this fire.
posted by GuyZero at 10:38 AM on September 5, 2013


Employers are already regulating tobacco use for healthcare reasons. Alcohol is a perfectly logical extension of that.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:08 AM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well I think alcohol is culturally accepted differently from tobacco. Which path marijuana will take remains to be seen. But it's still acceptable for your employer to give you alcohol while I can hardly imagine anybody but a Philips Morris employee getting free tobacco.
posted by GuyZero at 11:10 AM on September 5, 2013


I think one of the biggest problems is the analytical techniques and detection. No alcohol in your system (or very little depending on where you are) = you're not drunk. If you could develop an "under the influence vs not under the influence test for MJ it would help quite a bit. You just shouldn't be driving high. No it's not the same as driving drunk, but driving super high isn't safe either. Same with a whole slew of drugs - psychedelics come to mind.
posted by Big_B at 11:44 AM on September 5, 2013


I don't drive on psychedelics, I just orange fish washbasin.
posted by mikurski at 11:53 AM on September 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's still a marker that tells something about the person they're hiring, and generally speaking, it's not saying something good about the applicant.
Sorry, I'm going to have to call bullshit on that. As a software engineering manager, alcohol has far more negative impact on my team members' performance than cannabis does. Yet, oddly enough, alcohol consumption is often subsidized by employers. Regardless, I expect my team to manage their own time. If they aren't being productive at work, I'll tell them. But it is up to the individual to decide what - if any - changes to make in their personal life.

Where cannabis testing may make sense is for jobs involving driving, piloting, or operating heavy machinery. Though it seems a bit strange that it is totally cool for a utility truck driver to get blind drunk on Sunday night, but they can't have had any THC in their system within 30 days of getting behind the wheel. That is really an insurance issue, though.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:22 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Big_B: the Washington law legalizing marijuana establishes exactly such a principle, and it distinguishes between concentrations of active THC metabolites and the carboxy-THC metabolites used for long-term drug use tests.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:30 PM on September 5, 2013




Illegal pot farm probably didn't cause Rim Fire, official says. 'That was only one of many rumors.'

If it had guard bears, following Smokey's example, I'm sure they would have put the fire out anyway.
posted by homunculus at 11:22 AM on September 21, 2013


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