The state-legal cannabis industry is in a precarious position. With that in mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has offered guidance on how businesses can develop cannabis policies that adhere to state regulations but reduce the risk of impaired driving.
While federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, 36 states have legalized medical cannabis and 19 states allow recreational use. On top of that, there is still no accurate way to test for THC. The level of THC in the bloodstream doesn’t always correspond with the level of impairment; tests have found that THC can stay for up to 90 days in the body. For employees who consume marijuana, especially those who operate vehicles for a living, this can have significant consequences
The CDC acknowledged that although driving under the influence of cannabis is inherently risky, different state policies and the absence of an accurate THC impairment testing tool make the issue more nuanced. Cannabis is the second-most-found drug in post-crash tests, the CDC writes in a recent blog, emphasizing that it impairs cognitive abilities and slows motor functions.
Drivers under the influence of THC have slower reaction times and reduced decision making, says the CDC, and studies have shown that accident risk increases with marijuana consumption. However, we still cannot determine the exact correlation between marijuana use and crash risk as THC can be detected in body fluids weeks after being consumed. To walk the fine line between kowtowing to state cannabis policies and preventing accidents due to impaired driving, the CDC advises employers to develop an exhaustive marijuana policy that considers the policies of the states where they operate.
It may not be possible to pass a zero-tolerance policy, the CDC says, but employers can prohibit marijuana use at work and ban their employees from reporting to work while under the influence. The CDC also advises partnering with a lawyer who is familiar with marijuana laws to review marijuana policies and offer legal feedback. In addition, the policy should outline the conditions under which drug testing will happen, the level of THC that constitutes impairment and the repercussions of a positive test.
Employers should also talk to their employees about the implications of mislabeled CBD products, specifically regarding products with higher levels of THC than what is displayed on the label. The CDC also advised employers to grant employees with drug problems access to support, such as in-house programs or referral to other resources.
The step taken by the CDC to provide marijuana policy guidance to employers is one more step to making it easier for patients who need medical marijuana to use it without fear of putting their jobs at risk. In addition, the existence of IoT marijuana-dosing devices, such as those produced by RYAH Group Inc. (CSE: RYAH), eases the task of adhering to the dosage instructions recommended by professionals.
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