The largest U.S. auto dealership group has lightened up on lighting up.
AutoNation Inc. no longer refuses to hire job applicants who test positive for marijuana in drug screenings, CEO Mike Jackson said in an interview. The shift, which Jackson said was made quietly two years ago, shows that corporate America's hiring practices are evolving along with pot's legal status.
"If you tested positive for marijuana, you couldn't join our company," said Jackson. "At a certain point, we said, 'You know what? That's wrong.'"
AutoNation will still bar anyone who tests positive for other illegal drugs, including cocaine, Jackson said. The company employs 26,000 people.
AutoNation may represent the first wave of a coming trend as marijuana becomes more socially acceptable and companies vie for workers in the tightest labor market in 17 years. A Gallup Poll in October found that 64 percent of Americans favor legalization, the most since the company started asking the question in 1969, when only 12 percent supported it.
"Companies recognize that they don't screen for alcohol," said John Challenger, co-founder of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago employment firm. "So why would they do it for pot? As the war for talent grows and gets fiercer, it makes no sense to rule out a whole segment of candidates on something that just is no longer relevant."