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Workplace Impairment From Marijuana

Workplace impairment from marijuana is a growing concern across the United States and even the world. While marijuana often provides medical benefits, its use can also lead to impairment, which can affect an employee's ability to perform their job safely and effectively in the workplace.


One of the main concerns with marijuana impairment in the workplace is its impact on cognitive function. Marijuana use can impair memory, attention, and decision-making, while slowing reaction times and decreasing coordination which can be particularly dangerous or risky in certain jobs, such as operating heavy machinery, driving, or filing important paperwork. A study in the Journal of the American Medical association shows that “[i]ndividuals who test positive for marijuana have 55 percent more industrial accidents,” “85 percent more injuries and 75 percent more absenteeism.”


Despite the concerns with marijuana impairment in the workplace, California law does not currently impose any specific restrictions on marijuana use by employees. Rather, companies are largely allowed to set their own policies on marijuana use, with laws existing to protect employees’ use of marijuana outside the workplace, rather than limit it.


For example, employers are prohibited from requiring an employee to take a drug test for marijuana as a condition of employment, unless it is a safety-sensitive position as defined by law. However, employers are allowed to take appropriate action if an employee appears to be impaired on the job. Additionally, employers have to be mindful of employee's medical usage. California law, under propositions 215 and SB 420, allows individuals with a valid doctor’s recommendation or medical cannabis card to use and possess marijuana for medical purposes, employers cannot discriminate against these employees, unless it affects their job performance or safety.


The concern companies in states such as California or Maryland face today is that “if [employees are] using [marijuana,] they come to work and they take a drug screen and they come up positive based on a urinalysis, it does not mean that they’re impaired.” Rather, “[i]t just means they have the THC metabolite in their system enough to trip the drug test.” This is where Otorize comes in, as Otorize tests for current impairment from substances such as marijuana, rather than previous use, which is crucial in this ambiguous time for marijuana laws.


Marijuana impairment in the workplace is a serious issue across the world, and employers need to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to ensure the safety and productivity of their employees. This may include setting clear policies on marijuana use, providing training on the effects of marijuana impairment, and conducting regular evaluations of employee performance. Otorize is a tool that can be utilized in the workplace to prevent workplace impairment as laws continue to rapidly change.


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