No place for overreach in marijuana crackdowns in the workplace

Re “Bill would help protect jobs of legal pot users” (Page A1, Dec. 25): As psychiatrists who have worked with numerous people who’ve been harmed by drug use, we are appalled to know that individuals have lost their jobs simply because they tested positive for marijuana. We fully support the proposed legislation that would prohibit this from happening.

Alcohol is far more dangerous to both individuals and society than marijuana and kills more than 100,000 people in the United States annually. Although marijuana is harmful for some users, it pales in comparison with alcohol in terms of rates of addiction, deaths, and other deleterious effects.


As Dan Adams’s article highlights, firing an employee merely because of a positive drug test can have devastating consequences. We have seen physicians who have occasionally used marijuana after work in states where it is fully legal lose their ability to practice medicine as a result of a positive marijuana test, even when there have been no complaints regarding their clinical abilities or allegations of substance use while on duty. Some of these physicians also have been forced to pay for costly diagnostic evaluations.

Impairment in the workplace is a serious matter and ought to be rooted out and addressed. But referring people for treatment or firing them merely for a positive marijuana test is truly reefer madness.

Dr. Michael Alpert,


Dr. J. Wesley Boyd


The writers are also faculty members in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.