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Pot legalization is making managing employees under the influence more complicated

With marijuana now legal to some extent in 28 states, employers are required to rethinking drug testing and workplace safety.

Public opinions continue to shift with 60 percent of the population now supporting legalization. Marijuana use has normally been associated with younger people, the sharp increase in acceptance is most notable with the 55-and-over age range because of the increase in legal medical marijuana.

What does this mean for those employing users of marijuana?

Keeping safety as the main concern, SimpleSure recommends that employers focus on employee performance indicators as well as their training and hiring process.  Drug testing alone can't solve the problem after-the-fact, managers should receive training on how to recognize impairment and the correct procedures on how to document their observations.  This is a proactive approach to managing risk before a workplace accent occurs.

The direct workers’ compensation cost of the most severe, nonfatal occupational injuries tops $51 billion.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4,821 fatal occupational injuries occurred in the United States in 2014, or about 3.4 fatal injuries for every 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (BLS, 2016). Private industry and state and local government employers reported another 3,486,400 nonfatal occupational injuries in the same year (BLS, 2015). The economic impact of these injuries is considerable. Leigh (2011) estimated that the average medical costs per nonfatal and fatal injury in 2007 were $5,369 and $55,595, respectively. Nationally, the medical and indirect costs of occupational injuries (fatal and nonfatal) totaled $191.83 billion in 2007 (Leigh, 2011). Marucci-Wellman et al. (2015) estimated that in the United States the direct workers’ compensation cost of the most severe, nonfatal occupational injuries was over $51 billion in 2010.  - NAP study

14.4 percent of U.S. adults with full-time employment reported using cannabis during the previous year (CBHSQ, 2016). Among those employed part-time, the proportion was higher, at 17.8 percent (CBHSQ, 2016).


How to respond

Even though weed is legal in some states, just like alcohol, employees should be given notice in your employee manual they cannot be impaired on the job.  This creates a clean line and informs employees how being impaired will affect any workers' compensation claims.