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Job offers drop over conflicts between Illinois marijuana laws and company rules

Companies still drug test applicants to protect themselves from liabilities but local employment agencies say 40% of their applicants fail, making them un-hirable.
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 5:42 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Illinois made recreational pot legal a little over a year ago, but many businesses across the state struggle with the new law and their company rules. Human resource experts said this makes conflict makes hiring positions extra challenging.

“Yes, it’s legal in this state, but federally illegal,” said Express Employment Professionals Owner, Matt Giebel.

Melissa Ridgeway-Hagerman is the branch manager at Manpower Employment Agency in Rockford. She said human resource professionals have their hands full -- with Illinois cannabis laws making it worse. Ridgeway-Hagerman said she has sent many applicants for drug screenings and saw them fail the tests, making them un-hirable for some companies.

“They’re like, what do you mean I failed? And we say, well you have marijuana in your system,” said Ridgeway-Hagerman. “Then they say, how is that failing? That goes over their head.”

Ridgeway-Hagerman said many people think employers stopped drug testing when cannabis use became legal in the state. Matt Giebel owns Express Employment Professionals. He said the drug tests are important to limit a company’s liabilities in case of an accident.

“My recruiters are stretched pretty thin right now as it it, so we’re trying to help as many companies as we can,” said Giebel.

Giebel said 40% of recent applicants at his agency failed their drug tests, creating major staffing concerns. Especially for manufacturing companies.

“Just to be safe, we can’t send somebody who failed the drug screen to operate machines or do anything dangerous,” said Giebel.

The THC content from marijuana can show up in your system for up to thirty days. Giebel said there’s no way determine when you last ingested the drug.

“Unfortunately, it is a pass or fail type thing,” said Giebel.

Ridgeway-Hagerman said if you want a job, the solution is simple.

“If you are seriously looking for a job, you need to keep yourself in check,” said Ridgeway-Hagerman.

Giebel said it’s unlikely that manufacturing positions will relax marijuana restrictions because they can’t run the risk of someone getting hurt.

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