Employers are facing new questions and considerations as marijuana becomes legal at the state level.
Currently, there are laws allowing medical marijuana in 23 states (including the District of Columbia) and legal recreational use by adults in five states (Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia).
However, even in the states that have permitted recreational use, employees can still be held accountable under two scenarios: federally mandated drug testing and drug-free workplace.
Federally Mandated Policy: Commercial drivers, airline pilots, flight attendants, railroad engineers and conductors, workers in nuclear power plants and many others in safety-sensitive positions. This also includes any company that has received a federal grant, as federal funding requires recipients to abide by the Drug Free Workplace Act.
Company Drug-Free Workplace Policy: Company-specific policies and standards to promote a safe workplace free of drug and alcohol use and abuse.
But why should companies test for marijuana and other drugs if not required by the federal government?
In 2002, the estimated national cost of lost worker productivity due to illicit drug use was $129 billion. Employees who use drugs are more likely to be absent or late, be involved in workplace accidents or file workers’ compensation claims.
Among the drugs in the workplace, marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug. The effects of marijuana can be detrimental to productivity: short term memory loss, impaired motor coordination, altered judgment, paranoia and psychosis. Memory impairments can last up to seven days after last use. The legal status of marijuana does not remove this threat to the workplace. State law continues to uphold an employer’s ability to test.
In 2013, positive drug tests results in the workplace for marijuana increased nationwide by 6.2%. And more Americans obtain treatment for marijuana than any other illegal drug.
Workplace drug testing is an essential tool in confronting the growing drug abuse problem. While marijuana produces the most positive drug test results, it’s important to test for other drugs that could affect the workplace. A study in Washington State showed that injury rates in construction, manufacturing and services declined significantly following the implementation of drug testing.
Help create a safe, healthy and productive workplace by implementing a comprehensive drug testing program. For a full review by the Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc on marijuana in the workplace, click here: http://datia.org/advocacy/IBH_workplacetesting.pdf