Sep 10, 2019 in Interview

Medical Marijuana and How it Affect the Hiring Process

Medical marijuana entails the use of marijuana and its constituent cannabinoids for the treatment or alleviation of the particular diseases symptoms (Martinez 32). There have been questions relating to how medical marijuana could affect the hiring process within different organizations. Such discussion is caused by the fact that many organizations engage in the process of drug testing their new employees before they can be admitted within the company system. In current research, two human resource managers from Rhode Island were interviewed on their views regarding the issue and how it could affect the hiring process. One of the individuals interviewed was Mr. Dick Kropp who is the President and Chief Human Resource Officer at the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhodes.

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The second interviewee was Ms. Suzanne DeCourcy, the human resource manager of The Jans Companies based on Rhodes Island. It was vital to conduct the interviews to acquire information regarding the issue of medical marijuana and how it might or might not affect the hiring process. The interviewees play an instrumental role in investigating the issue by offering their own views on the continuing process of adoption of medical marijuana and the subsequent effects it might have on the hiring process. In their responsibilities as human resource managers, the interviewees provided relevant information that would be widely used in current research paper. The legalization of marijuana for medical use puts great pressure on organizations in their process of admitting new employees.

Current paper explicates the issue of medical marijuana and its effect on the hiring process based on interviews with Mr. Dick Kropp and Ms. Suzanne DeCourcy.

Interview with Mr. Dick Kropp

As aforementioned, Mr. Dick Kropp is the President and Chief Human Resources Officer at the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhodes. The company operates in the insurance industry and is concerned with offering different insurance plans to individuals. The interview was successful and Mr. Dick Kropp provided his own views on the medical marijuana and whether it can affect the hiring process.

In terms of addressing the general issue of medical marijuana, Mr. Kropp noted that many states have legalized medical marijuana, hence giving individuals an opportunity to use it for the alleviation or treatment of different medical conditions (Kropp 2015). It is undeniable that many individuals have adapted the use of the drug, and it is already causing numerous problems within organizations, especially in their adherence to the drug-free environment. He noted that the increasing use of the substance for medical purposes is of great concern because it gives some individuals a possibility to use it even without the prescription of doctors.

Some employees who take part in the recruitment process fail to produce the doctor’s report entailing recommendations for their use of medical marijuana, hence putting the organization at a difficult position. The issue needs to be clarified further to ensure that all individuals who apply for a job are aware of what they might be required to do to avoid losing the employment opportunities in the strict industry. The insurance industry requires employees who do not use drugs, as they may be needed to serve as role models or offer the best examples to the clients.

When asked about the effect of medical marijuana on the hiring and drug testing process, Mr. Kropp was, to some extent, indifferent on the matter. He noted that the issue of medical marijuana could affect the hiring process, as well as have no influence in some quarters. For instance, he affirmed that medical marijuana affects the enforcement of procedures in the hiring process. His company, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhodes, believes in the hiring of sober employees and medical marijuana tends to affect the procedures leading to the acquisition of a drug-free workforce (Kropp 2015). It specifically affects the procedure of drug testing within the organization.

He stated that the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana (THC) is insoluble in water and tends to remain in the bloodstream for a period of 30 days. It affects the company’s ability to enforce its hiring procedures on individuals who test positive for the drug after they have been hired. The impairment of the organization’s hiring procedures makes it difficult to hire the desired workforce, as it has to continually consider some of the individuals who test positive for medical marijuana (Guerin 17). However, the key problem in this case remains the ascertainment of the truth relating to the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Additionally, Mr. Kropp reiterated that medical marijuana affects the hiring process in terms of awareness programs. In the course of advertising the availability of different positions in the organization, it is always critical to inform people about the company’s policy on hiring individuals who use drugs (Kropp 2015). In some instances, it is difficult to pass such message to the applicants, as it might discourage some of them from believing in the ability of the organization to accommodate them at the workplace. Some of them take the awareness programs, as a means to prevent them from working for the organization, and they might take legal action against the company for discrimination. He emphasized that other employers, apart from Blue Cross & Blue Shield Rhodes, constantly face issues with conducting awareness programs in their hiring process. Difficulty to pass the message on the company policy poses a challenge to the recruitment process, as the company might miss an opportunity to hire some highly competent employees who are on medical marijuana.

Thirdly, he stated that it directly affects the hiring process in terms of the accommodations that are supposed to be given to the employees. It is conventional knowledge that employees with disabilities are supposed to be accommodated as a special group right from the recruitment to the hiring process. In the case of medical marijuana, it is difficult to determine whether users can be categorized as individuals with special needs (Shilling 44). It is extremely challenging for contemporary employers to hire such employees because there are no direct laws providing for their category. Subjecting them to similar hiring process, as normal individuals, can sound as a form of discrimination because most of them would automatically be refused a position for showing positive results after the drug testing procedure.

Most companies still have to develop such accommodation due to their strict employment laws, which require the board of directors for review. Again, the most challenging element is that the board of directors is still adamant on reviewing the policy and accommodating medical marijuana users as a special group. Their presence complicates the whole hiring process because they have to be considered separately from other applicants by being giving some kind of preferential treatment as a special group. He expressed hope that it would be clarified in the shortest time possible to help companies in their hiring process.

In completing his indifferent position on the effect of medical marijuana on the hiring process and drug testing, Mr. Kropp noted that it might not necessarily affect the hiring process (Kropp 2015). The fundamental thing is that employers are aware of the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. Therefore, it cannot affect the hiring process in any given way, as the company managers only have the opportunity of assessing the applicants and comparing the results with the doctor’s prescription. The only thing that would be required is a report by a registered medical institution or doctor confirming that the individual is using marijuana for medical purposes. It would be a less complicated approach to the recruitment process because no further drug testing might be done on the employees, as reports confirm that the marijuana is for medical purpose. He opined that it makes the whole process easier, as not every employee needs to be tested for the use of drugs. Well-organized hiring process helps the organization function properly because it has the capacity to access quality human resources whether they test positive or not.

Interview with Ms. Suzanne DeCourcy

Ms. Suzanne Decourcy was the second interviewee. She is the human resource manager at The Jans Companies on Rhode Island. The company operates in the hospitality industry serving clients from different backgrounds. It is one of the key employers on Rhode Island, which adheres to the effective human resources policies that are conventionally appreciated.

On the question relating to her general overview of the problem, Ms. DeCourcy noted that the whole issue of medical marijuana is new to employers, and it poses difficulties in the management of human resources (DeCourcy 2015). She stated that she clearly understands the fact that some employees might be required to use medical marijuana for a number of conditions including cancer, diabetes, dementia and epilepsy. Despite her understanding of the issue, she confirmed that the rampant legalization of marijuana for medical use has put her company in a difficult situation due to its zero-tolerance to the use of drugs among its employees. The company requires every person to be extremely sober, as it eliminates any form of risk to other employees and clients at the organization. Medical marijuana is considered as another normal prescribed drug, and it would mean that employees have the right to smoke it or consume it on the company’s premises once hired (Martinez 55). The usage of marijuana at the workplace is not desirable, and it is difficult to understand how such employees would survive in the organization when hired.

She held a firm position that medical marijuana affects the hiring and drug testing processes in the organization. Firstly, she confirmed that it affects screening activities associated with drug testing. Drug testing is compulsory in the hiring process at The Jans Companies (DeCourcy 2015). The whole process requires informing applicants on the activities that have to be conducted, individuals subject to the screenings and the entire procedure of screening new employees. The screening process will be impaired because many individuals will show positive results after the drug test. It is an undesirable condition because every organization wants to see itself acquiring employees who do not use such substances.

The determination of whom to choose based on the levels of marijuana in their blood is a challenging task that slows down the hiring process. It is certain that applicants use medical marijuana with varying levels of frequency, and the company will not be in the best position to determine whom to hire depending on the results revealed on the screenings (Guerin 87). Apart from this, some applicants might be adamant to be re-tested for drug use in the hiring process due to the belief that the doctor’s confirmation might have been enough for them. Dealing with such individuals in in the course of hiring is a challenge in itself because it eliminates the element of equal treatment of everyone involved in the process.

In addition, she pointed out that medical marijuana affects the hiring process because it forces employers to bend their statement of a drug-free workplace. The recognition of medical marijuana has created new trends that employers have to adhere to in their hiring process. For instance, The Jans Companies has been forced to change its rules relating to a drug-free workplace (DeCourcy 2015). The whole concept of a drug-free workplace has become irrelevant in the hiring process because there have been increasing instances of medical marijuana applicants. Companies are trying to change such rules in the hiring process to try and ensure that everyone has an equal chance of qualifying for the available job. She emphasized that such approach negates the position of many organizations because the hired employees may carry their usage of medical marijuana to the workplace, hence posing a risk to others.

Anyway, the effect of such decisions is short-term, because applicants using medical marijuana would feel victimized by the company for their conditions rather than the drug. The forced nature of changing the rules amounts to drug tolerance within the organizational environment, and it is highly undesirable for any employer (Guerin 107). When many employees on medical marijuana apply for the hiring process, it raises an ethical dilemma for the employer. Moreover, it might influence the hiring process because some of such employees have to be taken to make the whole process fair (Kropp 2015).

According to Ms. DeCourcy, medical marijuana also affects the hiring process in the sense that it limits the ability of the employer to create a list of unacceptable activities. In the hiring process, employers, such as The Jans Company, always have a clear statement of some of the unacceptable activities at the organization (DeCourcy 2015). The virtue of being unacceptable implies that it would not be tolerated to any extent in the company. However, applicants using medical marijuana make it difficult for the company to make it clear from the beginning that some activities, such as the use of drugs, would not be tolerated in the company’s premises.

The situation might be complicated when some of the employees attend the hiring process, while still using medical marijuana for their recovery process. Creating a list of unacceptable activities relating to drug use tends to create a kind of double standards because it does not apply directly to all employees. The best human resource standards relate directly to all employees without allowing some of them special privileges over others. Therefore, the company is still contemplating the most successful way of stating and implementing such rules to the current hiring process that has to include employees on medical marijuana.

Furthermore, she explained that the issue of medical marijuana affects the hiring process in terms of contract signing. When an employee is hired, he/she is always required to sign an employment contract, relating to his/her performance and observation of the company rules in every given circumstances. For applicants using medical marijuana, it might be a complicated step in the hiring process, especially where the company has zero-tolerance to substance use among its employees (Shilling 98).

It would be extremely challenging for them to append a signature to rules that deny them the opportunity to use marijuana for medical purposes while working at the organization. In cases where they sign such employment contracts without reading all the terms, they might bring a legal action against the company for wrongful termination. Since the contract is binding to both the company and the individual, the company might be required to compensate the authorized medical marijuana user for its wrongful activities. Therefore, organizations are at a risky state when dealing with situations of medical marijuana in their hiring process and the statement of contract terms. Moreover, the contract cannot stop the employee from using medical marijuana for the required medical purposes.

In the interview, she also pointed out that medical marijuana affects the hiring process because it typically contradicts the state law on the provision of a safe and healthy environment. She outlined that the Occupational and Health Standards Act (OSHA) obligates employees to provide a safe and healthy working environment to their employees starting from the hiring process (DeCourcy 2015). However, the accommodation of individuals on medical marijuana goes against the requirements of the Act. It complicates the effective implantation of the Act within the organization, as some employees will be using marijuana, which is one of the most feared and illegal drugs. There is an assumption that safety would not be guaranteed with the allowance of medical marijuana into the organization beginning from the hiring process. On the other aspect, it only aims at promoting the health of the particular individual using marijuana, while affecting those who might be allergic to it (Martinez 176). The working relationships among employees would be affected once they have been permanently placed into the organization. It is caused by the fact that they will have numerous differences in perception of the whole concept of using the substance within the premises of the organization and in its reflection of the best human resource practices.


In conclusion, Mr. Kropp and Ms. DeCourcy tend to point to the fact that medical marijuana affects the hiring process within the organization. It is clear that medical marijuana makes it difficult for organizations to strictly follow their rules on the substance abuse within their premises. They are always forced to change such rules in the hiring process to ensure that they are as fair as possible. Again, its effect on the hiring process is seen in the accommodations required by employers. Employers must develop effective accommodations for the special type of people using marijuana for medical purposes. Without such accommodations, it becomes difficult to consider such employees. Such factors affect the screening activities during the hiring process, especially if the individual does not provide information regarding using marijuana for medical purposes. The discovery of the incident in later tests puts the organization at a difficult position when it comes to terminating a legalized user who had signed and agreed to use the substance for medical purposes.

The contradiction between medical marijuana and some of the state Acts, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Standards Act, is reflective of the pressure that medical marijuana puts on organizations. They do not have a clearly outlined plan they can follow to implement the use of medical marijuana among their employees. With the increasing legalization and use of medical marijuana, organizations would have to be more flexible in their systems. They need to work towards ensuring that applicants on medical marijuana are effectively considered from the recruitment stage to the hiring process. Such level of consistency in dealing with employees using medical marijuana will avoid any form of legal actions initiated by employees who are allowed to use the substance for medical purposes.

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