Because cannabis legalization is expanding across the United States, many companies are concerned about how to go about drug testing their employees. They are also quite concerned about workplace safety. (As you may know, cannabis or “pot” is legal in some form or another in 28 states as well as our capital, Washington DC.)
Each state’s laws regarding marijuana legalization are different, making it difficult for companies to know how to manage their employees when it comes to marijuana usage by employees and location.
(This can be especially tricky if a company has workers split between multiple states where some states offer legalization and others don’t. For example, Idaho does not offer pot legalization but is bordered by 3 states that allow legalization in some form or another.)
To help give guidance, here are some steps to leverage in order to keep the work environment accident free with the changing tide in pot regulations.
First, it is important to understand that public opinion towards marijuana has shifted in recent years. Today, approximately 60% of the population supports the legalization of cannabis. While this change may be thought of as coming from younger adults, the change in attitudes is actually most significant in the population age 55 and older. A current study found that in medical areas where marijuana was proven to be beneficial, Medicare enrollees were significant users of marijuana.
So what can companies do though if they have employees that use cannabis?
Of course, safety is a primary concern for these companies. It is important that companies concentrate on the efficiency of their employees in addition to increased scrutiny on training and hiring processes. (This is really no different than how alcohol is treated in the work environment.)
These four extra steps can help ensure a safe environment:
1. Review job descriptions and determine what each job requires. Would an employee who uses cannabis in non-working hours influence that person’s capability to perform essential job duties?
2. Train managers how to identify impairment caused by marijuana use in the workplace. Review signs and symptoms of a person who has used cannabis.
3. Determine if drug screening is a good fit for your business. If it is, determine how to best do it with your employees. For example at their time of hire or additionally throughout the worker’s employment.
4. Consider the impact medicinal marijuana may have on policies. For example, where pot use is truly necessary for a given worker’s medical needs rather than being a recreational choice.
Research regarding marijuana usage indicates that the impacts of marijuana on a person’s ability to function changes drastically from user to user in addition to the type of work being done.
Of note, fewer than a third of studies found a relationship between marijuana use and reduced function.
For a complete understanding of how employee pot use may impact your safety risk profile, be sure to reach out to us for guidance. We’ll be sure to point you in the right direction.