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May 1, 2015

Guidelines for Marijuana at Work

Summary:

Marijuana use at work is a very complicated issue -- and not just because many state laws conflict with the federal ban on marijuana.

Photo Courtesy of Torben Hansen

ACOEM/AAOHN recently published some guidance for employers on how to deal with the rapidly expanding legalization of marijuana in individual states across the U.S. that I believe are very important and that I wanted to share.

Because “presence” — having marijuana-related chemicals in the worker’s body — does not necessarily mean impairment, and presence lasts a lot longer than impairment, there is a conundrum on how to deal with workplace injuries and on what safety policies to enact to prevent injuries.

Many legal issues arise because individual states have policies around medical and recreational use (related to age, amount, location, etc.) that are inconsistent with cannabis’ illegal status at the federal level.

So we all need to be thinking about the issues. To quote myself from an article on Lexis-Nexis: “I personally think this should be required reading by general counsel and human resources at every employer, especially in states where legalization has already occurred but even for those where it isn’t, because it’s coming. Clear and proactive policies are absolutely required, and those can only be created by knowing every aspect of federal laws and their intersection with individual state laws (and not just your state, but surrounding states). To quote Facebook, ‘It’s complicated.’”

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About the Author

Mark Pew is a senior vice president at Prium. He is an expert in workers’ compensation medical management, with a focus on prescription drug management. Areas of expertise include: abuse and misuse of opioids and other prescription drugs; managing prescription drug utilization and cost; and best practices for weaning people off dangerous drug regimens.

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