Considering the prevalence of marijuana in the workplace, employers should review their drug-free policies and continue to test for marijuana in all positions deemed safety-sensitive.
SESCO Management Consultants have written an excellent article summarizing the steps employers should take in reviewing their drug free workplace programs.
SESCO officials express concern that marijuana continues to be legalized by states nationwide. “It may seem hard to fathom, but marijuana is legalized for medical use in 34 states and the District of Columbia and 10 states – plus the District of Columbia – have legalized recreational marijuana use…further legalization efforts will continue,” they stated.
SESCO Management Consultants also offered advice on establishing drug-free workplace policies, remarking that “unlike other drugs, marijuana’s precarious position between legal (states) and illegal (federal) makes it different than other impairing substances.”
On a federal level, marijuana is still considered an illegal, schedule I drug. However, many states continue to legalize it due to popular demand. At R&A, Inc., we believe the following facts cited in the MTD article support the continued inclusion of marijuana in workplace drug test programs. This is especially true for employees in safety-sensitive positions. According to the National Safety Council:
- Car crashes involving marijuana increased 300% between 2010 and 2013 and continue to increase as additional states legalize the drug
- Marijuana is 10 to 20 times more potent now than it was in the 1960s and 70s
- Workers who tested positive for marijuana in the workplace had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries and 75% greater absenteeism in comparison with those who tested negative
- Employers spend about $7,000 per year on a worker who uses drugs
- About one out of five workers struggle with substance abuse
- One statistic from SESCO’s employee satisfaction survey reveals that almost all employees (over 90%) want and expect a safe place to work
If you’d like to know more about safety-sensitive positions, R&A Inc. has discussed the topic in depth here.
It is important for employers to create a strong substance abuse policy since marijuana is illegal on a federal basis but legal in many states. Ultimately, they should restrict marijuana in the workplace to the extent allowed by the law.
Some specific policy considerations include:
- Testing for THC and marijuana in the workplace, especially in safety-sensitive positions
- Using a testing method such as Oral Fluid Testing, which exposes recent use rather than past use
- In states where medical marijuana usage is permitted, policies should require employees to substantiate their medical marijuana authorization
- Supervisors should be trained on how to identify impairment and know what steps to take when someone is suspected of impairment
- A zero-tolerance policy should be in place for marijuana use by employees in safety-sensitive positions
- Random testing should be considered
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. To learn more about marijuana in the workplace, Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com