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Cannabis and Work Regulations

The use of both medical and recreational cannabis is slowly being accepted across the U.S., with 10 states along with the District of Columbia greenlighting the use of recreational cannabis and 33 states allowing its medical use. However, not all workplaces have been able to catch up, and many HR departments are scrambling to make changes in their drug policies.

How Will Cannabis Affect Job Safety?

While the use of cannabis has plenty of benefits for patients who are suffering from various ailments, the same can’t exactly be said for employees who are on their way to their jobs. This is because THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, can negatively affect reaction time, depth perception, and motor and coordination skills. These effects, in turn, can pose safety and productivity challenges in the workplace. In fact, about 55% of industrial accidents are attributed to employees who tested positive for cannabis, with 85% more injuries and 75% more absenteeism as opposed to employees who tested negative.

However, there are cannabis products, like CBD oil, which do not have the negative effects associated with THC. Your company’s drug policy should also consider how different products affect the safety and productivity of your employees.

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Sobriety in the Workplace

For industries that are primarily safety-sensitive, it is imperative that zero-tolerance policies towards cannabis use are put in place. The best way to enforce a zero-tolerance policy is to conduct random drug testing in the workplace, but this method presents a set of challenges itself. While alcohol can be measured precisely using breathalyzers, there is no exact and convenient way of measuring the amount of THC present in the body. What’s more, the effects of this cannabinoid can still impair the senses long after all the traces of THC has left the user’s bloodstream.

There is also the question of privacy rights. Drug testing can be an invasive event, and employers need to tread carefully to avoid privacy complaints and lawsuits. However, at the federal level, employers are not obligated to accommodate cannabis use, leaving users completely subjected to federal guidelines.

Making a Good Drug Policy

It’s important to have a drug policy in writing to make sure that your employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in the workplace and the consequences of substance use and impairment while in the premises of the business. Furthermore, employers should agree on how strong their stance should be as a company. Safety-sensitive industries and federal contractors may not have much choice about implementing strict rules against marijuana consumption. For other types of industries, however, a mandatory random drug test should solidify your position to employees.

If you’re in the process of drafting or amending your company’s drug policy, here are some notable inclusions to ensure compliance:

  • Make sure that there is a proper management training system in place. This way, managers can become more effective in enforcing the company drug policy.
  • Encourage employees to seek support for drug problems. You can do this by sponsoring assistance programs or referring them to outside resources.
  • Anticipate accidents and establish rules for post-accident screening. Also, let employees know what will happen if they are convicted or arrested. 

Be specific in crafting the policy and have a lawyer review it to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. At the same time, your company drug policy should be frequently updated to adapt to changing attitudes and laws concerning the use of cannabis and other substances that can affect the safety and productivity of your employees. Finally, keep in mind that the health and safety of your workforce is your ultimate priority when drafting a policy.

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