We noticed this article from the Center for Disease Control that states marijuana causes a dangerous workplace. So, it naturally caught our attention. It is important for us to know that the information we give to clients and prospects is supported by statistics in a government article. We have summarized the article below but encourage you to read the article in its entirety.
Cannabis is the most frequently used illicit drug (by Federal law) among Americans, with an estimated 43.5 million past-year users age 12 or older in 2018. Nearly 18% of adults employed full-time, and nearly 21% of adults employed part-time, reported using cannabis during the previous year. The implications for workplace safety are emerging, as well as concerns about impairment, risk of injury, recruitment and hiring, regulatory issues, and the overall health and well-being of both workers and the public.
The Controlled Substances Act administered by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, meaning that it has no accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse. Regardless of the federal prohibition of marijuana, 33 states* as well as Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have passed laws legalizing marijuana for medicinal and/or non-medical adult uses at the time of this publication.
Studies of cannabis have demonstrated effects that include sedation, disorientation, impaired judgment, lack of concentration, and slowed fine motor skills, all of which can contribute to delayed decision-making, impaired learning, and memory and attention deficits. [R&A comment: We have written a blog post here that discusses the steps surrounding the proper documentation of impaired behavior]
One such study, reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), found 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and 75% greater absenteeism among employees who tested positive for marijuana compared to those who tested negative.
Research has also demonstrated a statistically significant association between marijuana use and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. The National Safety Council (NSC) released a position statement in 2019 stating that “cannabis impacts psychomotor skills and cognitive ability” and “there is no level of cannabis use that is safe or acceptable for employees who work in safety-sensitive positions”.
NIOSH recognizes the challenges associated with detecting impairment from marijuana, especially when compared to other substances like alcohol. Impairment from marijuana varies with THC concentration or dose, route of administration, and users’ experience with, or tolerance to, the drug.
The THC levels that create impairment are not well understood and according to the NIDA, there is wide variability in how THC is metabolized by frequent users versus infrequent users which makes interpretation of a positive urine drug test a challenge. [R&A comment: We have a post here that describes what a positive means and what it doesn’t mean when it comes to impairment]
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), most jurisdictions have workers compensation laws that, in some form, restrict workers compensation benefits when the injury is attributed to intoxication or drug use.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs since 1999. 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: email@example.com or the website at randisiandassociates.com