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ing. On the surface, both of these points have merit. However, upon closer exami- nation both arguments fall apart.

Marijuana Like Alcohol—Yes, mar-

ijuana is a lot like alcohol. Both are mind- altering, mood-altering drugs. Both are addictive, impair a user’s ability to safely operate a car, plane or heavy machinery, cause irreparable harm to the brain, and both cause traffi c accidents that result in fatalities. T e only signifi cant diff erence between alcohol and marijuana is that one is legal and the other, for obvious rea- sons, remains illegal under federal U.S. law. T e timeless expression, two wrongs don’t make a right, rings true here.

Marijuana For the Ill—Two key

components in marijuana are: 1) tetrahy- drocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC; and 2) cannabidiol or CBD. THC is the psychoactive ingredient

in marijuana, the component that makes people feel “high.” When people talk about marijuana potency they are typi- cally referring to the THC level whether they realize it or not. According to the Na- tional Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) the potency in today’s marijuana is close to 30% compared to just 10% a few de- cades ago. NIDA summarizes that the higher THC* content in today’s pot may be responsible for the rise in marijuana- related emergency room visits, psychotic behavior, and damage to the brain. At the same time THC levels have

been increasing, CBD* levels have been decreasing. In other words, the compo- nent in marijuana that some researchers claim helps in the treatment of brain and mood disorders such as Alzheimer’s dis- ease, may not actually be capable of help- ing much. Higher potency in today’s marijuana

may actually be leading to more of some of the kinds of problems that marijuana advocates claim the drug, with its weaker

CBD levels, helps. *Source for THC and CBD levels:: http://www.

pot-evolution-how-the-makeup-of-marijua- na-has-changed-over-time

What Employers Can Do Every employer concerned about

maintaining a safe and productive work environment should conduct drug test- ing of job applicants and, under specifi c circumstances, employees. Such programs must comply with all applicable national laws (in most countries a variety of laws, regulations, and labor agreements typical- ly aff ect workplace drug testing programs) as well as state or provincial laws and regu- lations, including lawful activities statutes that are common in the United States. U.S. employers’ drug testing programs must take

into account legalized marijuana

laws, including medical marijuana laws. As always, a key part of an employer’s

approach to combatting the negative ef- fects of employees working while un- der the infl uence of any substance is the company’s drug-free workplace policy. Be clear about what your company policy is regarding: prohibited behaviors, drug test- ing (how, when and for what), and conse- quences for policy violations In harmony with all applicable laws, be

clear that an employee cannot possess or use marijuana in the workplace nor be at work under its infl uence. Defi ne in your policy what “under the infl uence” means. Such a defi nition should include testing positive for marijuana. Some medical marijuana laws in the

United States have specifi c language per- taining to:

• T e workplace • Use of marijuana at work • Working under the infl uence • Discrimination • Discipline • Drug testing

Drug testing is not prohibited by any medical marijuana law. In fact, Illinois’ medical marijuana law specifi cally states

that the statute does not prohibit employers from drug testing in a non-discriminatory manner and nothing in the law creates a defense for failing a drug test. Minnesota’s medical marijuana law prohibits employ- ers from discriminating against a registered medical marijuana user based solely on a positive drug test for “cannabis components or metabolites.”

Conclusion When it comes to marijuana in 2015,

here’s what we know:

• Many millions of people throughout the world use marijuana.

• In the United States, the legalization of marijuana coincides with dramatic increases in people using marijuana and testing posi- tive in workplace drug tests.

• Many countries have legalized marijuana and/or do not stringently enforce marijuana laws, at least for possession of small quanti- ties of the drug.

• Yet, people under the infl uence of mari- juana at work are less safe and less produc- tive than their non-using co-workers.

• Employers throughout the world continue to have an obligation to ensure their work- places are safe and free from the negative ef- fects of people working under the infl uence of dangerous drugs such as marijuana.

• A company drug testing policy that com- plies with all applicable laws, including le- galized marijuana laws, is critical to any em- ployer’s eff orts to establish and maintain a drug-free workplace.

Employers worldwide have a vested in-

terest in understanding the legal status of marijuana in the country where they con- duct business.

© 2014 International For

© 2014 Internation lal Forum fum for Drug and Alcoh

or Drug and Alcoholl T sting Te t

Testiing. All r ghts reserv d

g. All riights reserved.


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