03rd Aug, 2020 Read time 3 minutes

What the advent of medical marijuana means for HSE and drug testing

Drug testing is a crucial part of many different businesses and their implementation of a robust health and safety policy, and the sad reality of work is many employees and stakeholders within a business will abuse and misuse substances over the course of a career.

One of the factors in which there could develop a grey area around the use of drugs is the increasing legalisation of Marijuana for medical and recreational use. Some are concerned about how potential increased use of the drug will affect routine and random drug tests in workplaces. Here’s the latest news on the subject.


The thinking around the subject in the USA

Currently, in many states, an individual needs a medical marijuana license to use the product. In regards to drug testing, if an individual possessing a card is fired or disciplined because of them testing positive on a drug test, it could be the case that they have been a victim of workplace discrimination. The presence of THC within a subject will cause a test failure, however, particularly in the case of medical use this will not necessarily equate to the subject being ‘high’.

In Nevada as of 2020, it will become illegal for employers to refuse a job application based on the result of a failed marijuana drug test. In addition to this other states have also made it illegal for a worker to be fired because of a failed marijuana screening test. This, however, does not apply if the use of marijuana affects the ability of the worker to perform their job. Factors that can be tested on this legal issue include the effect a worker may have on the safety of the other employees, members of the public and others within the workplace.

The federal system in the US means that implementing any kind of legislation like this is challenging and the finer points of the law can vary from state to state. Current federal law does not authorize the use of medical marijuana, but this only applies to regulated companies.


Potential complications in the UK

Currently, there are relatively few examples of medical cannabis being used to treat patients in the UK. Despite these changes, legislation in 2018 led to the use of medicinal cannabis being legalised in some select cases.

In contrast to the issue of contradicting pieces of law being addressed in the US, employment law in the UK has not changed to account for the potential increased use of medical marijuana in employees. Those working in HR and health and safety will need to apply some common sense tests in regards to cases where employees may fail drugs tests through the use of medical marijuana. With this in mind, employers may wish to update their HR and health and safety policies to give themselves ample room to deal with any issues that do arrive.


Ensure your business stays up to date with the latest information on drug testing

With all the previous points stated screening, whilst important in many organisations’ health and safety, does not get to the root cause of an issue. If an employee is guilty of misusing cannabis, a drugs test will do little to solve the problem. This is where wider health and wellbeing health and safety policies come into the equation.

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