The Massachusetts legislature is expected to take up a still-in-the-works bill in the new year that deals with the question of whether employees can be fired for testing positive for marijuana use. The issue should have been resolved before the legalization of pot was allowed to happen.

The argument is a simple one: pot smokers want to know why someone is allowed to drink alcohol on their own time and not subject to a potential job-losing tinkle test at the office, while many pot smokers do. It's a double standard, they say. I agree.

I did not support the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts for a number of reasons, but weed is legal now and it's time we figured out the rules.

We have heard recently from a number of business groups that some employers, already finding it difficult to find workers in the booming Trump economy, have begun to relax the rules on tinkle testing, but anyone with a contract with the federal government is less likely to do so as pot is still deemed illegal at the federal level.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana can remain in your system long after you've used it, and lacking efficient testing devices, it is difficult for employers to tell whether their workers are showing up high or just have ganja in their system from last weekend's partying.

State Senator Jason Lewis tells the Boston Globe he plans to introduce a bill in January to treat off-the-clock marijuana use the same way as off-the-clock alcohol use. The fact that the federal government still does not recognize marijuana use as legal and the lack of sufficient testing abilities could complicate things, but the discussion is one that is long overdue.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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