Medical Marijuana – the road to true impairment analysis

As this legal article points out, medical marijuana is causing some consternation within businesses who use suspicionless drug testing. An important court case is pending on this and there’s likely to be more legal action in the future.

In the meantime, as the Oregon Court of Appeals articulated in Washburn, here’s what is at issue:

  • An employer’s substance abuse policy may not categorically prohibit marijuana;
  • It isn’t clear if work and marijuana use can be accommodated; and
  • Employers might have to demonstrate an employee’s on-the-job impairment, even though impairment cannot be measured.

What does this mean? Employers might have to start doing their job right. Evaluate employee performance through things like actual job performance, rather than whether there are metabolites in the blood that have nothing to do with impairment.
I have supervised employees most of my life, and I’ve never depended on drug testing. If someone showed up to work impaired from drugs or alcohol, I sent them home (and I had no problem figuring it out). If they did it again, I fired them. Simple. No drug tests. However, if someone did some wild partying on Saturday night, but were clear and ready to work on Monday, I had no problem — if they were a good worker, they did well with me.
This isn’t a hard concept, folks. If you need to have drug tests to find out if your employees are impaired, then you need new supervisors. Drug tests are counter-productive and ruin a good workplace environment.
Medical marijuana can help, by making tests for marijuana metabolites worthless.

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