Tennessee Drug Testing Laws and Regulations



Statute of Order

Tenn. Code Ann. §41-1-122

Covered Employers

State Dept. of Corrections.

Applicant Testing

Applicant testing is not subject to restriction. A positive drug test or refusal of an applicant to undergo drug testing is a ground for not hiring said job applicant.

Employee Testing

Testing of Corrections Department employees is authorized if there is reasonable suspicion of substance abuse. Employees who test positive are subject to appropriate disciplinary action, but counseling and rehabilitation must be offered.

Conditions & Methods

Circulation to employee of a written summary of facts forming basis for suspicion and opportunity for explanation, plus confirmation of positive findings.

Important Bulletpoints

  • Workplace drugs or alcohol testing programs are subject to applicable provisions of collective bargaining agreements and federal rules and requirements.
  • Generally, testing of employees for the unwarranted presence of alcohol may be performed only on the basis of reasonable suspicion. The only exception is for employees holding safety-sensitive positions, wherein employers are authorized to conduct alcohol testing at any occasion.
  • For Tennessee employers, a minimum of 5% credit may be awarded on workers’ compensation insurance for drug-free workplace programs that comply with the rules of the division of workers’ compensation.
  • Injury or death due to intoxication or illegal use of drugs constitutes willful misconduct for which no compensation shall be allowed as per workers’ compensation regulations. An employee’s refusal to submit to a drug test gives rise to the presumption that the injury was caused by the use of drugs.
  • Other than applicant testing upon conditional offer of employment, alcohol or drug tests that may be required by the employer for a compliant drug-free workplace program. This includes reasonable suspicion, routine fitness-for-duty, follow-up and post-accident tests.
  • Employers who want to qualify as a drug-free workplace are required to test employees who are: in safety-sensitive positions; figure in a workplace accident resulting in injury; undergone a drug rehabilitation program; currently employed with the drug test a routine physical examination.
  • Employees who test positive have the right to explain their positive drug test result.
  • An employer has no right to discipline, discharge, discriminate, request for rehabilitation or refuse to hire an employee or job applicant who test positive on a drug test unless the initial test has been verified or confirmed by an authorized medical review officer.

Medical Marijuana Law

There is no law in the state of Tennessee that legalizes the use and possession of medical marijuana. However, the state passed a law in 2014 which allows gravely ill, seizure patients to source cannabis oil with a sizeable amount of CBD and trace amount of THC. The legislative body of Tennessee modified this law in 2015 and 2016.

SB 2531 was the first CBD-focused bill that was passed in 2014. One of the requirements is that a state university-affiliated clinic or hospital should supervise the study and research of cannabis oil. This legislature also called on Tennessee Tech to cultivate and grow marijuana. Because of the federal government's take on controlled substances, the original law was unworkable since there is a general prohibition on marijuana and CBD. The federal law enforcers are not bound to support universities and hospitals on their cannabis oil researches so the possibility of getting federal grants to fund such research is nil. Thus, hospitals and universities were not keen on participating.

SB 280 effectively changed the law by allowing a person who acquired cannabis oil in another state to keep it in the state of Tennessee. The acquired cannabis oil must be labeled by the manufacturer that its THC content is not more than 0.9%. The person in possession of such must carry a recommendation or legal order from the state where he bought the cannabis oil.

Tennessee's medical marijuana program is still pending.

Qualifying Medical Conditions

• Intractable seizures


• The THC content allowed in marijuana cultivated in universities from 0.9% to 0.6%.

• The law only allows trace amount of THC. A higher amount may be required for the treatment to be effective.

Recreational Marijuana Law

There is no recreational marijuana law in Tennessee. Only CBD oil is allowed for the treatment of intractable epilepsy. The legislative further amended the provision of the law relating to university research as it reduced the THC content allowed in marijuana cultivated in universities from 0.9% to 0.6%. This modification effectively allowed higher education institutions to participate, permitting researches on intractable seizure, cancer and other diseases. The glitch in the amendment is that a certification from the drug enforcement administration situated in the state is required. This clause takes time to complete that there is only one location that has been permitted to cultivate cannabis under federal law.

Effects on Drug Testing in the Workplace

Tennessee adheres to the drug-free workplace program that regulates drug testing. Employers must follow the rules of the state to qualify for discount on their employees' compensation insurance premiums. Thus, drug testing applicants and employees in certain circumstances is a must.





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