January 4th, 2017 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Marijuana @ Work: Important Info for Employers

Green Cross

The increase of daily use of marijuana has dramatically impacted the workplace. According to a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there is currently 22.2 Million marijuana users aged 12 and up. 29 states plus Washington D.C. have enacted laws allowing for the use of marijuana for medical purposes, while eight states (AK, CA, CO, MA, ME, NV, OR and WA plus DC) recently passed laws legalizing the personal use of this drug. There is legislation legalizing recreational and medical use of marijuana that is up for the vote in 8 more states this November. The legalization of marijuana use for medicinal or recreational purposes in many states across the United States has forced employers to review their workplace drug policies.

The legalization of marijuana use for medicinal or recreational purposes doesn’t remove the many reasons for screening for this drug, including workplace safety, productivity and health concerns. A new U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration report found that of the employees who test positive for marijuana, 55 percent of them are involved in more industrial accidents, 85 percent have more injuries and 75 percent of them have a higher absenteeism rate than those who test negative for marijuana in a pre-employment exam. Today, there are over 40 million workplace drug tests conducted each year. These tests will detect THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s mind-altering effects. And with the increase in drug testing, there has also been a dramatic increase in the number of court decisions and state laws pertaining to drug testing and marijuana use, which are being updated every month. Unfortunately, there is no agreed level for intoxication with marijuana mainly due to lack of research and because THC is absorbed differently into the body compared to alcohol. However, the impact in the workplace is well understood e.g. fatal accidents, increased injury and absenteeism rates and resulting loss of productivity.

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 policies, including a drug screening program, will reinforce the best practices in drug prevention. Having the right drug policies in place will help enforce safety standards in the interest of public health and safety.

SterlingSM has created the “Marijuana @ Work” infographic which provides insights to help a company decide if it is time to update their drug acceptance policy, how state courts have ruled in workplace marijuana use cases and most importantly how to take steps to ensure your drug testing practices are legally compliant and suited to your company’s needs.

For more information, you can download “Marijuana Legalization: Why It’s High Time You Reviewed Your Company’s Drug Policy”.

Green Cross

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.