Marijuana has been consistently ranked as the most commonly detected illicit drug for more than three decades. In the United States, national polls highlight relaxing attitudes toward
the drug and data indicates that marijuana use in society is up. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2015, an estimated 22.2 million Americans, aged 12 or older,
were current users of marijuana, representing 8.3% of the total population. In 2016, is was reported that 44% of all positive drug tests for the general U.S. workforce showed
evidence of marijuana usage. The latest data showed that marijuana positivity is increasing dramatically in all three drug test specimen types in the American workforce and the rate continues to climb. Is the same thing happening in Australia?
Marijuana is the product of the hemp plant, Cannabis, which contains the psychoactive chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds. It has been the most
widely used illicit drug in the U.S. and Australia since 1975. Marijuana is typically smoked using cigarettes or pipes, but it can also be mixed into edibles and drinks. Additionally, potent oils and waxes can be extracted from the Cannabis plant. Effects of marijuana use can include distorted senses, impaired judgment, lack of balance and coordination, increased appetite, elevated heart rate, and sometimes anxiety and panic. Research studies have shown that marijuana use can cause impairment, and can impact reaction times, concentration, task performance, and driving. In contrast, information from dosecontrolled human studies on the benefits of the marijuana plant, as well as its materials and chemicals, is more limited.
Screening for Marijuana
Employers face challenges as states continue to legalising marijuana. Currently, there are no restrictions limiting an employer’s ability to drug test for marijuana, although there may be limitations on permissible disciplinary action that an employer may take if an employee is using the drug in accordance with that state’s marijuana laws i.e. medical marijuana. It should be noted that these limitations do not apply to sate-mandated road transport regulations and laws (e.g. drug driving police testing). Also, current laws do not require an employer to accommodate on-duty drug use or prohibit an employer from taking action if an employee is working under the influence of marijuana.
Analysis showed that in 2016 more than 99% of all urine workplace drug tests performed continue to screen for marijuana as a part of the drug testing panel despite state marijuana laws. Generally, the state medical and recreational use statutes impact a very small number of employees at most employer locations. Nonetheless, employers should remain educated on how new and existing legislation can impact company drug testing policies and procedures, drug testing program administration, and how drug test results are handled. A substance abuse policy should be clearly written, comply with all applicable laws, and be consistently applied to the workforce.
In conclusion, marijuana positivity continues to increase across the country, partly due to changing societal views about its usage, as well as the increasing number of states passing
legislation liberalising its use. In spite of these trends, companies can remain committed to keeping marijuana use out of the workforce and can still screen job applicants and
employees. Simply stated, there are currently no prohibitions on testing workers for marijuana. A clearly written drug testing policy that complies with current local and federal laws
remains paramount. The policy should detail who is tested, what drug test specimen type is used, and the consequences of a violation.
Finally, stay informed about marijuana issues such as legislation, trends in use, and testing technology in your efforts to maintain a safe, healthy, drug-free workplace.
Source: Quest Diagnostics