The changes in attitude about marijuana took another big swing to the “pro-cannabis” side recently when AutoNation officially announced it doesn’t mind if job applicants have smoked marijuana.
This is in a time when some companies are still drug-testing employees for the presence of THC, the active chemical ingredient in marijuana.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this story is the fact that it’s been going on for quite some time, now. And that Fort Lauderdale-based AutoNation, with 26,000 employees, is the largest auto dealer chain in the United States.
It’s Just “Wrong”
AutoNation Chief Executive Officer Mike Jackson, 68, revealed the shift in policy during a recent interview with Bloomberg. He said the company decided two years ago that if a job applicant tested positive for marijuana in a drug-screening, it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker to offering them a job.
The presence of other drugs, such as cocaine, will eliminate them from job consideration, however.
He said in the past that “if you tested positive for marijuana, you couldn’t join our company. At a certain point, we said, ‘You know what? That’s wrong.’”
Why? Jackson didn’t go into details with Bloomberg, but John Challenger, co-founder of Chicago-based employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told Bloomberg that more companies are changing their attitude toward marijuana as it becomes more socially acceptable.
He said, “Companies recognize that they don’t screen for alcohol. So why would they do it for pot?”
AutoNation is majority owned by Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment LLC and hedge fund billionaire Edward Lampert, according to Bloomberg.
A Shift In Attitude?
The attitude of AutoNation certainly reflects the attitude of the American people, if survey results are to be believed. For example, a 2016 Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans are in favor of marijuana legalization.
However, whether businesses will follow suit remains to be seen. Jack In The Box recently tried a temporary marijuana-themed menu item in California. But most businesses, conservative in nature, have steered clear of the issue. That’s primarily because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
It’s certainly good news for potential employees, however, at least at AutoNation, because more employees than ever are testing positive for marijuana.
A 2017 report from drug-test company Quest Diagnostics revealed that positive tests for marijuana have jumped as legalization has spread across the country. Based on information from more than 10 million drug tests, the company found that positive tests for marijuana rose 75 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to Bloomberg.