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A fully budded marijuana plant ready for trimming is seen at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year A fully budded marijuana plant ready for trimming is seen at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year's day in Northglenn, Colo., Dec. 31, 2013. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)  

Colorado Cannabis Company Rethinks Employee Drug Test Policy

Greg Campbell
Contributor

A Colorado cannabis-oil business that landed in hot water among marijuana activists for its stance on drug testing employees has revised its policy under pressure.

O.penVAPE, which sells hash-oil cartridges and the vaporizer pens used to smoke them, announced in early April that it’s drug policy prohibited the workplace use of a long list of dangerous drugs.

While the list omitted marijuana in an attempt to differentiate it from harmful substances that could cause dangerous impairment at work — although it still banned pot use on the job — activists bristled at the clause allowing the company to test employees for drugs.

“Urine testing finds nothing,” activists Doug McVay told the cannabis news site CelebStoner. “Cocaine and heroin are eliminated within a day, alcohol within eight hours. I’ve worked since 1988 to educate people about the fact that urine testing and drug testing generally is a waste of time.”

“It’s ineffective, inefficient and degrading, and is no replacement for adequate management and employee supervision,” he said. “It’s the tool for [those] who don’t have the skills to run a company.”

O.penVAPE also drew the ire of Tom Angell, the chairman of Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Majority; the Drug Policy Alliance; and NORML for the policy’s “drug warrior-esque justifications and language,” in Angell’s words.

In an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation, Angell said he engaged in a heated back-and-forth Twitter exchange with O.penVAPE CEO Todd Mitchem until “higher-ups in the company saw that this was doing serious brand damage and losing them respect with their key customer base.”

O.penVAPE has since walked back its policy on drug testing and last week issued a revised policy that focuses on impairment, whether from drugs or sleep deprivation.

“The Company is also sensitive to civil liberties concerns implicated by testing, and the perception of asking employees to ‘prove their innocence’ through a drug test,” the policy now reads.

Employees are still prohibited from using or being under the influence of impairing substances — both legal and illegal — while on the job, but the policy affirms “an employee’s freedom to choose legal substances in their off-work time.”

Marijuana activists hail the changes as ground breaking and the company’s one-time critics are praising it for responding to the outcry.

“This started off as a really unfortunate incident of drug war ignorance but ended up being a positive learning experience,” Angell wrote to TheDCNF. “What happened here shows that even among those allies who ‘get it’ with respect to marijuana, there’s still a lot of internalized stereotypes and misinformation about other drugs, the people who use them and the fairness and effectiveness of the policies that purport to prevent and treat abuse of those substances.”

“While O.penVAPE truly erred with their initial policy, they deserve thanks and congratulations for taking the time to hear our concerns and make things right in the end,” he said.

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