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Given the employee's tenure with the company, it is possible that the employer may make an exception for a positive drug test for marijuana. The fact is marijuana is a less harmful drug than alcohol and is on its way to being legalized across the country. If I were an employer, I would not terminate an employee of 45 years because the employee used marijuana in their free time.
Therefore, the best course of action would typically be to take full responsibility but explain that this was an isolated incident and that the marijuana usage will not continue. Then, the employee should point out how long they have been with the company and why they are a valuable asset. The focus should be not on denying the transgression, but arguing the mitigating factors.
Of course, this is just a general approach, and only the employee is in a position to know what is best in their particular circumstances.
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