How should employers approach cannabis-related impairment in the workplace?
Rather than testing for general use, employers can establish a monitoring system to detect impairment in the workplace. This approach also presents challenges. Given that cannabis can linger in the system even after 30 days of nonuse, drug testing is not a reliable indicator of active impairment from cannabis.
In Bloomberg Law’s Leadership Forum “Covid-19 and the Workplace: Navigating the Changing Legal Risks,” Douglas L. Parker, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said a workplace drug testing policy should focus on work-related hazards.
“My hope is that, as things progress, there’ll be a technological fix that will allow us to determine if a worker is under the influence, the way that we’re able to do that with alcohol,” Parker said. “That technology doesn’t really exist with respect to cannabis at this time.”
He added that during accident investigations, it is “critically important” to continue to investigate more deeply, even after a positive drug test of an involved worker.
“That’s not the time to declare mission accomplished,” Parker advised. “There should be a full investigation determining the causal factors.”
Faced with these variables, employers may wish to establish new cannabis screening practices and train workers to identify signs of impairment. In this regard, workplace policies that govern testing for alcohol impairment in the workplace could offer guidance, said Dori Goldstein, Bloomberg Law Analysis assistant team lead.