Controversy Erupts Over O.penVAPE's Drug-Testing Policy

O.pen VAPE packs pot oil into cartridges. "It’s easily a billion-dollar company probably in two years," says Todd Mitchem.

One of Colorado's most successful canna-businesses, O.penVAPE is taking heat over its decision to drug test employees. Though on-the-job marijuana use is not allowed, the focus of the policy is on "dangerous drugs."

Tom Angell, who heads the Marijuana Majority, got things going with a tweet to O.penVAPE's chief revenue officer Todd Mitchem, asking: "Can we talk about @openvape drug testing policy ASAP in lieu of public campaign/petition against it."

Mitchem replied to @tomangell: "We are keeping people safe. So sorry you don't care about employee safety. Growns up need to behave differently."

This further angered Angell and other activists, who exploded with vitriol directed at O.penVAPE in Facebook comments (not published here at Angell's request).

Meanwhile, @ToddMitchem tried to defend his company's position with a number of tweets to Angell and others: "I  guess I missed the memo where the MJ community was fighting for employers embracing the abuse of dangerous drugs… The point here is that we must teach the public cannabis doesn't belong in the same category as dangerous drugs… The strategy was careful to support mainstream cannabis use but protect the industry from dangerous accidents… We're also against the war on drugs, it's a failure. But we want to keep our team safe. We are aligned with you… I love this industry. I use cannabis. I want my team to be safe at work. I respect you all… As a community & industry we all agree War on Drugs has failed. Lets put our minds together on how to address work place safety."

Todd Mitchem defends his company’s drug testing policy: "The strategy was careful to support mainstream cannabis use."

Mitchem directed people to check out O.penVAPE's actual drug-testing policy. It reads, in part:

• No employee is permitted to consume, possess, sell, purchase or be under the influence of dangerous drugs while employed by O.penVAPE. The consumption, sale, possession or purchase of dangerous drugs in any vehicle owned or leased on behalf of O.penVAPE or at any O.penVAPE facility that is licensed to sell cannabis is prohibited and is grounds for immediate the termination.

• O.penVAPE does not tolerate employees who report for duty while impaired by the use of cannabis, alcohol or dangerous drugs.

• In cases in which the use of cannabis, alcohol or dangerous drugs creates an imminent threat to the safety of persons or property, employees are required by O.penVAPE to report the violation.

The policy describes "dangerous drugs" as the following: "Including but not limited to: cocaine, amphetamines (speed), methamphetamines (meth), methadone, opiates (opium, heroine, morphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxycodone (unless prescribed by a licensed MD or DO), phencyclidine (PCP, Angel Dust), barbiturates (downers), benzodiazepines (benzos, downers, nerve pills, tranks), tricyclic antidepressants (unless prescribed by a licensed MD or DO)." The list doesn't include such hallucinogens as Ecstasy, LSD and mushrooms.

So then does O.penVAPE test for marijuana?

Mitchem replied to a CelebStoner tweet with the following answer: "We do not test for cannabis unless someone is in an accident."

What happens if someone tests positive for any drug?

Mitchem: "They are referred to a company counselor aka EAP (Employee Assistance Program). We always support our family of employees."

Activist sources tell CelebStoner that O.penVAPE is concerned about the response to their policy and is reaching out to drug reform groups to discuss ways it can be amended to appease their concerns.

Doug McVay, who edits Drug War Facts, takes exception to any drug testing - whether it's for marijuana or so-called "dangerous drugs." "Urine testing finds nothing," he tells CelebStoner. "Cocaine and heroin are eliminated within a day, alcohol within eight hours. I've worked since 1988 to educate people about the fact that urine testing and drug testing generally is a waste of time. It's ineffective, inefficient and degrading, and is no replacement for adequate management and employee supervision. It's the tool for tools who don't have the skills to run a company."

In the CNBC documentary, Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush, Harry Smith visited O.penVAPE in Denver, which Mitchem called "the Google of cannabis." As cannabis oil dripped out of a machine, he boasted, "This is one very expensive oil. Very profitable." Asked to forecast his company's future, he said, "If we keep the way we're going, it's easily a billion-dollar company probably in two years. In 10 years, we'll be Big Cannabis."

Mitchem, who previously worked for the management consulting firm, Eagle's Flight, explains his corporate philosophy below.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.