How should employers handle marijuana impairment and recent-use drug testing? Ultimately, the goal is to remove individuals who can adversely affect workplace safety and the safety of clients and members of the public. However, how do you know if someone is truly incapacitated? In this area of discussions with clients, we are often asked whether or not an individual is impaired if they test positive. A useful answer is provided below:
A positive drug test result DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY EQUAL impaired.
A negative drug test result DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY EQUAL not impaired.
A positive drug test result DOES EQUAL under the influence.
The chance of impairment alone is enough to worry many business owners. If you don’t realize that someone is impaired, an accident could occur in the workplace. Bill Current recently authored an article that thoroughly discusses impairment after cannabis use and effective methods to detect recent drug use. We highly recommend you take a few minutes to read the article in detail. What follows is a summary so as to provide the essential points of the article.
Essentially, positive marijuana test results in the workplace are on the rise. In fact, positivity rates have climbed 16.1% for urine testing, 35.2% for oral fluid testing and 22.5% for hair testing . If someone tests positive for marijuana and the result is verified, then they have used the drug recently. While this doesn’t guarantee that they’re impaired, they could potentially be a danger to other individuals.
What is the difference between “impaired” and “high”? Impairment is determined by how much marijuana was taken, how strong it was, and how often it was used. While the “high” itself only lasts for about 2 hours, a report from the University of Sydney states that cognitive impairment can persist for up to 10 hours. Some effects can even impact behaviors for up to 24 hours. Again, this depends on the individual and how the marijuana was used. Recent-use drug testing is the best way to determine whether or not a drug has been used within hours, and it can help to determine if an individual could have been impaired.
Fortunately, employers can take steps to reduce the risk of impairment due to marijuana use in the workplace. Any recent-use drug testing method that can detect marijuana use within a window of 10 hours is crucial. Oral fluid testing is one such method, and it’s highly effective for recent-use drug testing. Whether you want to test your employees randomly, conduct post-accident testing or check on an irresponsible individual, you’ll find this testing tool extremely helpful. Urine tests can uncover THC metabolite, but generally it isn’t useful several hours after the drug has been taken.
Bill Current authored the text “Why Drug Testing: Updated and Expanded for 2020,” and several other books on this subject. He ends his article with a very powerful statement: “Workplace drug testing is here to stay. Testing applicants and employees for marijuana, especially those in safety-sensitive positions, is permitted in all 50 states. Employers still have the right to prohibit workers from using marijuana while on the job, bringing marijuana into the workplace, and being at work impaired by marijuana.“ We want to encourage any employer who might be doubtful about the future of drug testing. Thanks to continuous improvements in recent-use drug testing, employers can rest assured knowing they have options.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has since 1999 been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com