CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As American society slowly warms to the idea of marijuana legalization, manufacturing firms are trying to figure out a delicate balance.

Rebecca McPhail

Medical marijuana in West Virginia has been legalized, but in other states recreational pot has also been cleared and it appears going forward there is less and less opposition to the idea. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 220-204 in favor of legislation to decriminalize marijuana on a national level; West Virginia Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller opposed the measure.

Employers who currently require drug tests as a condition of employment are trying to determine where their rules and regulations will stand in a society where the practice of using marijuana is more and more acceptable.

“As discussions continue about legalization of recreational marijuana as well as increased use for medical use, we are challenged as to what those impacts are going to be on our workforce,” said Rebecca McPhail, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association.

Speaking on MetroNews “Talkline,” McPhail said for many of her organization’s members there is a difficult conundrum. On the one hand, marijuana use is becoming more and more common and more and more acceptable in society, but there is still the issue of impairment and workplace safety which her members have to weigh.

“When it comes to testing, marijuana is either in your system or it isn’t. It’s not the same with alcohol where there are tests for levels of impairment,” she said.

According to McPhail there are difficult questions which need to be answered on what level of impairment is considered acceptable and what level is unacceptable for the future.

“This isn’t an up or down on whether marijuana should or shouldn’t be legal, but more how do we deal with it as it becomes more commonplace in society,” she said.

The use of pot is already an issue for hiring, particularly in safety sensitive jobs. McPhail said it’s common for her members to recruit new workers who refuse to show up when they realize the job will require regular drug testing as a condition of employment. Others who do show up are often disqualified with a positive drug test.

“It’s a big issue,” she said.


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