September 16th, 2016 | Sterling
A New DEA Report Confirms Marijuana Usage is Not Conducive to Workplace Safety
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a report in August 2016, affirming the Schedule 1 Controlled Substance classification of marijuana defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS concluded the following about marijuana:
- There is a high potential for abuse
- There is no accepted medical use in the United States
- Marijuana lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision
The Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) found that marijuana causes impairment inconsistent with workplace safety costing the U.S. economy $246 billion annually in decreased productivity, turnover, medical costs, increased accidents and absenteeism. Studies have shown that employees who use marijuana have 75% more absenteeism, 55% more industrial accidents and 85% more workplace injuries over employees not using the drug. Marijuana use affects motor coordination, short-term memory and alters judgement. Higher doses of the drug can cause paranoia and psychosis. The drug’s effects can result in a company’s machinery or equipment being used improperly or safety protocols not being followed.
Changes in State’s Marijuana Policies
Throughout the United States, there have been changes to laws governing marijuana medicinal and recreational use. Twenty-three states and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana in some form. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Since the laws were passed a few years ago, Washington and Colorado have seen up to a 17% increase in employees testing positive for THC, the psycho-active component of cannabis. The study also found that there has been an increase in overall workplace illicit drug use for the first time in nearly twenty years.
Workplace Drug Policies Review
The legalization of marijuana use has forced employers to review their workplace drug policies or even to implement an employee drug screening program. Companies who promote a drug-free environment will need to review their policy with legal counsel, consistently apply drug testing policies across all candidates and employees and consider the health and safety of all workers in the application of the predetermined drug screening policy. It has been proven that a company’s drug polices, including a drug testing program, will reinforce the best practices in drug prevention. Each business has the right to expect good work standards, productivity and safety from their employees. Employees who come to work impaired will have a negative effect on the productivity of any business. Having the right drug policies in place will help enforce safety standards in the interest of public health and safety.
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