Marijuana in the Workplace

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This is the question that many people ask due to the rise in recreational and medical marijuana. With many states beginning to legalize the drug it has has caused many issues in the workplace for employees and employers. The controversy is that employers have to ask themselves is marijuana use affecting job safety and should it be allowed even with a prescription?

Marijuana Controversy

Christine Clearwater, president of Drug-free Solutions Group, specializes in substance abuse prevention in the workplace. She says marijuana legalization should not lead to more lenient employer drug policies. She also states that, the highly politicized battle over marijuana laws can drown out statistics employers need to be aware of:

  • Car crashes involving marijuana went up 300% between 2010 and 2013, and they continue to rise as more states legalize the drug
  • Marijuana is 10 to 20 times stronger today than it was in the 1960s and ’70s
  • Marijuana is an addictive drug

It is very important for employers to issue a drug policy based on the safety of employees, not based off of legal or ethical concerns. Having a drug policy in tact is a very important business decision, it ensures that the employer will not be held accountable over an employee under the influence in the workplace. Accredited Drug Testing offers Drug Free Work Place policy’s customized the each company and their needs.

Marijuana And Job Safety

The substance THC in marijuana affects many necessary job related skills such as, perception, reaction time, coordination and more. Many people with safe-sensitive positions such as, operating machinery or company vehicles are at a higher risk if under the influence.

According to a study reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, employees who tested positive for marijuana had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries and 75% greater absenteeism compared to those who tested negative. Also impacting the workplace:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased worker compensation and unemployment compensation claims
  • High turnover
  • Lawsuits

These are the top 4 things that employers don’t want or try to avoid.  About 1/6 employees has a substance abuse problem. This is why a Drug Free Workplace policy is crucial, not only helps the employers but also helps keep the safety of all employees.

Challenges Of Medical Marijuana

Many medical marijuana-using employees have legally challenged their employers due to a positive drug test result, even when they are prescribed for it. Some states such as, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine and Rhode Island, protect employee rights against disciplinary action for medical marijuana use. However, marijuana is still illegal according to federal law, which classifies it as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Federal law supersedes state law. Important things to know about medical marijuana:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Actalso sides with the employer when it comes to medical marijuana
  • Most states will not pay worker compensation to an employee who was under the influence at the time of an accident
  • Most state health insurance programs will not pay for medical marijuana.

Drug Free Work Place Tips

Marijuana is the most frequently used drug of abuse in the United States and the drug most often detected in workplace drug testing. In 2014, about 6.8 million adults ages 18 to 25 (19.6%) and about 13.5 million adults ages 26 and older (6.6%) used marijuana. A solid workplace drug policy can go a long way to keeping a company drug-free.

  • Issue quarterly random drug tests to employees, that way you ensure the employees are drug-free all year round.
  • Expand the drug testing panel more than just the 5-panel standard. You can even customize your own panel.
  • Offer hair drug test instead of a urine drug test to ensure more accurate results and a further detection period.
  • Lastly, make sure to have a strong policy enact that management can enforce.

The health and safety of employees is dependent on the employer, therefore it is the employers responsibility to provide a Drug Free Work Place Policy. Everything you need listed above can be provided by Accredited Drug Testing. Visited www.accrediteddrugtesting.com for more information or call 800-221-4291.

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