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CDC Issues Guidance for Employers to Address Possible Marijuana Use by Drivers

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, released a bulletin for employers whose workers drive as part of their job. the newsletter, Marijuana Driving: How to Keep Your Fleet’s Drivers Safe recognizes that marijuana use is on the rise due to the explosion of medical and recreational marijuana laws passed in most states. Because “marijuana is the most commonly reported drug in post-crash testing,” the CDC said employers should address the issue as part of their “workplace motor vehicle safety programs.” .

The CDC began with a discussion of the impact of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) on users. THC is the psychoactive compound that affects parts of the brain that control movement, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment. Specifically, it can “impair coordination, distort perception, and lead to memory loss and difficulty with problem solving.” Regarding the impact of THC on individuals while driving, “THC can slow reaction times and reduce the ability to make decisions.” In fact, according to the CDC, the risk of a motor vehicle accident increases after the driver has consumed marijuana. That said, however, the CDC acknowledges that because THC can be detected in the body days or weeks after use, the actual impact the drug might have on the crash is uncertain.

What does the CDC recommend for employers whose workers drive as part of their job?

  • Develop a comprehensive marijuana policy that takes into account the laws in each state where the employer operates, which prohibits employees from using or being under the influence of marijuana (or any illegal drug) while on the job. job.
  • Consult with an attorney experienced in state marijuana laws to develop a new policy or revise an existing drug policy.
  • Describe details of any drug testing required if policy requires, including the conditions under which testing will take place (e.g. random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, etc.), the threshold that will constitute an impairment and the consequences of a positive test result.
  • Hire a medical review officer to review and interpret THC tests.
  • Warn drivers that cannabidiol (CBD) products are unregulated, which means products labeled “THC-free” or “pure CBD” may still contain THC, and that consuming CBD products with high levels of THC could result in a positive drug test.
  • Provide resources for employees with drug issues.
  • Educate drivers on the effects of marijuana and other drugs on safe driving and cognitive abilities and details of the employer’s drug policy.
  • Train managers and supervisors on policy requirements and best practices for recognizing and documenting signs of possible drug impairment.

States continue to enact recreational and medical marijuana laws at an accelerating pace. Additionally, as the CDC noted, marijuana use is on the rise across the country. Both of these considerations have caused employers to place greater emphasis on their drug testing policies, particularly for safety-sensitive and other driving roles. Employers in all jurisdictions, especially those that have enacted drug testing laws, would be well advised to consider reviewing their drug and alcohol testing policies to ensure not only compliance with the laws applicable, but also the adequacy of their policies with those of the company. general views and goals regarding applicants’ and employees’ marijuana use.

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