- Fifty-six percent of participants reported driving within two hours of using marijuana
- Fifty-one percent reported they drove while a “little high”
- Twenty-one percent reported driving while “very high”
This revealed tendency of marijuana users to drive shortly after taking marijuana and to drive while “high” is important information for employers who have employees in safety sensitive positions. Employers are liable for injuries to any third party by an employee doing their job.
This study highlights why marijuana is so dangerous when it states “When it comes to driving, we haven’t yet figured out the best way to know how impaired marijuana users are at any given time”. “With alcohol, you can do some quick math based on the amount you drank, and take an educated guess at your blood alcohol level. For marijuana, an estimate like this would be complicated. It’s hard to quantify because there is a lot of variation in marijuana dosing, THC potency, and route of administration. We also don’t have specific guidelines yet about when exactly it would be safe to operate a vehicle.”
So many times we get the question “How should we deal with people we employ who are using medical marijuana?” Just because a substance, that causes a “high” and “impairment”, is legal doesn’t mean you have to accept employees being high and impaired while working for your organization. Take alcohol, for example. Alcohol is a legal substance. But, that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate an inebriated employee showing up to work.
It’s always recommended your firm consult a competent employment and labor law firm before making any decisions. Often, it makes sense to have a conversation with an employee found to be high on any substance. Assuming the employee is a productive member of your workforce, it doesn’t make business sense to have a zero tolerance policy and terminate an employee after an initial discovery they are users of marijuana.
What is a safety sensitive position? It includes, but is not limited to, someone driving a 26,000-pound rig or operating heavy equipment. In fact, the State of Connecticut has defined hundreds of jobs that can be safety sensitive. The important thing is that your organization has defined safety sensitive positions and list why someone performing that job cannot be under the influence of a substance.
Then your organization should have a random drug testing policy. Random drug testing is the most effective way to send a clear message to your work force that you will not tolerate employees “high” on a substance, legal or illegal. And, positive rates are significantly higher for random drug tests. Check out Table 4 of the 2018 Quest Diagnostics Report 2018 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index. It shows the positive rate for pre-employment drug tests was 4.6%. But, the positive rate for random drug tests was 5.6%.