When measuring marijuana impairment, there are a variety of different factors and logistics to keep in mind during testing, and in both regular and employment settings.
The Star reports, “Marijuana impairment is much harder to measure because the drug is fat soluble, persists in the body for long periods of time, and metabolizes in different ways depending on the individual.”1
Based on this, and the different ways that people can consume the drug, it may be difficult to track and confirm what amount is enough in order to avoid driving while high, or perform daily duties such as: work, activities, or interaction with others’
With a drug that’s ingested in gummies, cookies, inhaled in many different ways, and available in all manner of potencies, good luck giving users any sense of how much is too much or how long they need to wait before they are competent to get behind the wheel.2
Beyond getting behind the wheel, the road rules and roadside drug testing devices for marijuana, it is important to consider consumption in the workforce. The Human Resources Professionals Association conducted a survey to gauge the impending legalization of marijuana in Canada and the feelings surrounding it in the workforce:
A survey completed by over 650 HRPA members between June 1, 2017 and June 9, 2017 found that 45% of respondents do not believe that their current workplace policies address potential new issues that may arise with the legalization of marijuana. Respondents’ concerns ranged from attendance and decreased work performance to increased insurance claims.3
If workplaces aren’t ready to communicate new issues surrounding the issues of marijuana, how will employees lead by example?
HRPA continues to report, “There is widespread concern among employers that increased use of cannabis, led by social normalization, will result in higher incidences of impairment in the workplace. Many employers are expecting the occurrence of workplace accidents to increase, especially in safety-sensitive industries,”4
While zero-tolerance may be a quick fix, HRPA explains why it is problematic, “A zero-tolerance cannabis policy is problematic in the workplace due to employers’ duty to accommodate. A zero-tolerance policy could cause discrimination against employees who use cannabis to treat or relieve the symptoms of a disability.
Overall, only time will tell how marijuana affects the workplace. Macleans reports,
“Some have found associations between marijuana use in the workforce and work absenteeism, reduced productivity, job turnover, disciplinary measures, workplace accidents and injuries, unemployment and interpersonal conflict. However, other studies have found no association with some of these outcomes. Overall, the evidence to date is quite inconsistent.”6
Lastly, while there are different types of drug testing, such as oral fluid drug screening, it is not clear if these will be able to be enforced in the workplace on a regular basis. When the legalization passes in July 2018, it will be then that we can start to see the effects of impairment on our workforce, for better or for worse.
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