Cannabis: Contemplate Before You Consume

3 Things for Engineering Professionals to Consider Before Using Marijuana

Until recently, purchasing and consuming marijuana could have meant running the risks of fines or even imprisonment. Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.  On January 1, 2020, the State of Illinois joined this group as the sale and consumption of cannabis was legalized for recreational purposes.  In the first 5 days alone, cannabis sales in Illinois exceeded $10 million with most dispensaries stocking out of inventory putting a strain on suppliers to keep up with pent-up demand for this product.  Experts predict that initial year cannabis sales in Illinois could exceed $400 million.

While the trend toward legalization of recreational marijuana is growing at the state level, consider the impact consumption could have on your engineering career.  Whether you’re in the market for a new job or are currently employed, here are three things for engineering professionals (and all employees) to contemplate before consuming marijuana.

  • Marijuana is still illegal in 39 states – and at the federal level.

What does this mean for you as an engineer with a company that does business with the government?  It means that US federal employees and contractors are subject to the Drug Free Workplace Act, which says that organizations that receive federal contracts or grants must maintain a drug-free workplace policy.

Marijuana usage can also have an impact on an application for security clearance. Drug use, even if not illegal in all states, must be reported on the SF-86 form.  Federal News Network states that “more clearances are denied based on the falsification on the application.” 

Thinking about becoming a naturalized citizen or applying for a green card?  You may want to think again before using cannabis. If you’re applying for a green card or going through the US naturalization process, testing positive on a drug screen can be used to deny an application.

  • Employers drug screen as part of the pre-employment screening process

Most employers drug screen. As part of the pre-employment screening process, an estimated 70% of companies with more than 2,500 employees conduct pre-employment drug screening.  So, even though recreational marijuana is now legal in Illinois, employers may reject an applicant who tests positive for cannabis as part of a “reasonable work place drug policy.”

  • Testing positive for marijuana can get you fired once employed

Testing positive for marijuana can get you fired. According to Lisa Schencker of the Chicago Tribune, “In Illinois, employers are allowed to fire workers who bring cannabis to the office, show up impaired or fail random drug tests, according to the state’s new law legalizing recreational marijuana use, which was amended in December to clarify employers’ rights.” 

With the possibility of getting terminated once on the job for testing positive, you’ll want to contemplate before you consume and consider the impact it may have on your current job and engineering career.

There’s no straightforward answer to consuming cannabis at the personal, employer, and legal levels. Be smart about it— although recreational marijuana consumption is now legal in Illinois, it can still have an impact on your engineering career whether you’re currently employed or in the market for a new engineering opportunity.  Contemplate before you consume cannabis.

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