drugtestOutside of class, more times than I can track, students and colleagues have asked me where I stand on the legalization of marijuana issue. But what they really were curious about, was what I thought about the recreational use of pot, now that a few states are allowing it to some extent.

Do I believe that occasional use of marijuana is a health hazard? I think that the evidence has pretty much debunked that myth. Sure, it can be abused. But on the same token, there is a world of difference between being a full time alcoholic versus enjoying a few sips of wine at dinner a couple nights a week.

The big problem is that the decision to legalize, or overlook the use of, marijuana has yet to be addressed on a national level. Policies and laws are inconsistent, and vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. What is okay in one town may get you arrested in another.

My personal advice, at this time, is to refrain from any temptation to enjoy a joint.

The use of marijuana is still a federal crime, as well as a state crime in more states than not. Many large corporations are still conservative about violating federal law (they have offices in multiple regions), or in violating any local laws.

If they require any drug testing —perhaps at the time of employment, or maybe only after any type of “incident” — and you test positive, then you are screwed. You will be labeled (by paranoid attorneys and trembling middle management types) as a “drug user”.

Testing positive could affect employment with government agencies, universities, hospitals, political campaigns, and any large corporation.

In my own household, my wife is a procedure nurse and often on-call . Should anything happen to a patient while she is on duty (even if caused by another medical staffer or MD) — she had better NOT test positive for anything (legal or illegal). I am in a similar situation, since I consult for government agencies and law enforcement. I am also on the Board of a sportsman’s club that includes shooting sports. Sometimes I am even armed. There is no way I would risk ever testing positive after an incident.

Like many freelancers, I am always looking for better employment opportunities. I cannot predict if a potential employer may require a drug test.

It is just not worth the risk. A slight buzz is not going to make my life any better; but testing positive could really make my life miserable.