Companies in states such as Colorado are struggling to find employees who can pass drug tests.
“Jim Johnson [construction company GE Johnson’s CEO]…said his company has encountered so many job candidates who have failed pre-employment drug tests because of their THC use that it is actively recruiting construction workers from other states.”
“A traffic safety organization is warning that two recent studies suggest that legalizing recreational marijuana could lead to an increase in crashes, including deadly ones.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that studies by the Highway Loss Data Institute and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin point to an increase in crash risk in states that legalized the recreational use of pot.
The Highway Loss Data Institute — which, like the IIHS, is a nonprofit organization backed by insurance companies — reported in June that insurance companies received higher-than-expected collision claims in Colorado, Washington and Oregon after those states allowed people to buy marijuana for recreational purposes. The frequency of claims rose about 3 percent, compared with surrounding western states that continued to have laws on the books prohibiting recreational use of marijuana, the institute found.”
“The Amtrak engineer in a crash that killed two workers doing maintenance on a rail bed south of Philadelphia last year tested positive for marijuana, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report issued Thursday.Alexander Hunter, an engineer with New Jersey Transit and Amtrak for 17 years, survived the crash with minor injuries. But two men working on the railway — Joseph Carter Jr., 61, and Peter John Adamovich, 59 — were killed.”(This is similar to a 1987 fatal Amtrak crash where the engineer later admitted that marijuana was the cause.)
“Indeed, the opioid epidemic and, to some extent, wider marijuana use are hitting businesses and the economy in ways that are beginning to be acknowledged by policy makers and other experts.…Were it not for the drug issue, said Mr. Krueger, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, workers trapped in low-wage jobs might be able to secure better-paying, skilled blue-collar positions and a toehold in the middle class.”
“‘The legalization of marijuana will have an adverse impact on workplace safety and on an employer’s ability to ensure a safe work environment,’ Enform CEO Cameron MacGillivray wrote.
… “In an interview, Mark Salkeld, president and CEO of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, a member of Enform, said employers who have spent the past decade implementing and enforcing comprehensive drug and alcohol policies at their work sites are fearful their efforts could be undermined if marijuana is legalized.”
“In saliva testing, positive marijuana tests increased nearly 75% to 8.9% of the general U.S. workforce in 2016 from 5.1% in 2013.Positive marijuana tests also increased in both urine testing — 2.5% in 2016 vs. 2.4% in 2015 — and hair testing —7.3% in 2016 compared to 7% in 2015 — in the same population.Dr. Barry Sample, Seneca, South Carolina-based senior director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions, said the numbers were no surprise.
“We have been tracking increased use of marijuana,” he said, adding that states such as Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been legal for recreational use for several years, saw some of the biggest leaps for workers in safety-sensitive jobs. In that category, Colorado’s numbers jumped 27% from 2015 to 2016 and Washington state’s rose 19%. “We’ve been seeing increases in self-reported use; increases in our workforce data,” said Dr. Sample.”
“A number of employers have expressed grave concerns’ about potential spillover effects of legal marijuana in the workplace, a labour lawyer said at a panel for employers on cannabis use Wednesday.
…[Attorney Darryl] Hiscocks [of Torys LLP] believes that legalization will remove the stigma associated with pot use and ’employees are going to be much more open and in your face about it,’ he said. “
“In the oral fluid testing category, which picks up on recent drug use, and is typically used to test workers on the job, positive drug tests for marijuana surged about 75 percent in the United States over the past four years — from 5.1 percent in 2013 to 8.9 percent in 2016, according to Quest. The data show smaller increases in urine and hair testing (a 4.2 percent increase over the past year).
“Colorado and Washington, which became the first two states to legalize weed in 2012, showed the largest growth in positive tests. Urine screens that detected pot rose 11 percent in Colorado and 9 percent in Washington, the first time either state outpaced the national average since residents could lawfully light up a joint.”
“Employees increasingly are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines at work, driving the rates of positive drug tests in the United States to the highest level in 12 years.
“Driving the increase are positive tests for marijuana, which hit 2 percent last year after growing steadily from about 1.6 percent in 2012. For workers federally mandated to be tested because they hold safety-sensitive positions, such as pilots and bus and truck drivers, positive marijuana tests grew to 0.78 from 0.73 percent.”
“Precision Drilling CEO Kevin Neveu, whose Calgary-based firm operates in both Canada and the United States, says his opposition to legalization is supported by his company’s experiences in Colorado after that state legalized the drug in 2014.
“He said costs there have increased for employees who need drug counselling or for those who fail drug tests and must be sent home under Precision’s ‘zero tolerance’ drug and alcohol policy said costs there have increased for employees who need drug counselling or for those who fail drug tests and must be sent home under Precision’s “zero tolerance” drug and alcohol policy.
And it’s more difficult to find new recruits, typically young men, who can pass pre-employment drug tests, he said.”‘We have certainly failed more people in Colorado (for drug use) after legalization than we did before,’ he said, though he was unable to give specific numbers.
“‘There’s a link, there’s a cause. Even during the recruitment phase where we warn them we’ll do a test, a surprising number still test positive.’”
“Legal marijuana shops are linked to higher levels of property crime in nearby areas, according to a nearly three-year study in Denver.
“Researchers found that crime isn’t higher in the area immediately surrounding marijuana outlets. But adjacent areas saw about 84 more property crimes per year than neighborhoods without a nearby marijuana store.”
“Longtime landlord Darryl Spencer was left scrambling for insurance after discovering a tenant was growing dozens of medical marijuana plants inside and outside his rental house.When the landlord told his insurance company about the perfectly legal grow-op, his coverage was cancelled, leaving him with no insurance, few rights and a big cleanup bill.”
“Dr. Barry Sample, Senior Director of Science and Technology, Quest Diagnostics, reviews Drug Testing Index (DTI) data in conjunction with NSDUH results to compare positivity trends and self-reported drug use over time. The latest DTI data revealed steady increases in overall positivity in the combined U.S. workforce that reached a 10-year high. The NSDUH survey results also support the DTI findings with year-over-year increases of self-reported drug use since 2012. In addition, the DTI called attention to increases in marijuana positivity during the past five years. NSDUH also indicates higher self-reported use for marijuana with 22 million Americans identifying as current users.”
“Testing in 2016 has shown that nearly 8 percent of workers involved in rail accidents were positive for drug use, including marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, benzodiazepine, OxyContin and morphine. Overall, the number of railway workers — including engineers, train crew and dispatchers — who tested positive for drug use in random tests soared 43 percent last year, the documents show. The number rose to 256 last year from 2014.”
“[We don’t know] what the impact [of marijuana use] is going to be on that person’s ability to the job and do it safely. Without knowing that, that person could be a risk. You don’t want the worker to be in a safety-sensitive position. Even if he’s sweeping the floor, if he doesn’t have his wits about him, and he’s near a press or another piece of machinery, he could get hurt, which would be workers comp. If it’s an injury to a co-worker, it’s workers comp. If it’s a third party who’s hurt, that’s a lawsuit.”
“It’s widely believed that Canada will legalize marijuana for recreational use. This will affect trucking companies, [lawyer Heather] Devine noted. She looked to Colorado as an example. When pot was legalized there, there was a spike in failed drug tests among drivers.”
“Colorado’s marijuana law clearly says that it doesn’t require an employer to permit or accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace, but there are efforts around the country to erode those standards[.]”
“All over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: They are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test.That hurdle partly stems from the growing ubiquity of drug testing, at corporations with big human resources departments, in industries like trucking where testing is mandated by federal law for safety reasons, and increasingly at smaller companies.But data suggest employers’ difficulties also reflect an increase in the use of drugs, especially marijuana — employers’ main gripe — and also heroin and other opioid drugs much in the news. … In Colorado, “to find a roofer or a painter that can pass a drug test is unheard-of,” said Jesse Russow, owner of Avalanche Roofing & Exteriors, in Colorado Springs.”
“Johnson said his company has encountered so many job candidates who have failed pre-employment drug tests because of their THC use that it is actively recruiting construction workers from other states.”
“Safety concerns are often a company’s primary reason for prohibiting marijuana in the workplace, and they are a valid basis for banning the drug. Marijuana use has been linked to an increase in job accidents and injuries, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that the short-term effects of marijuana include impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, memory problems, and an altered sense of time.”
“Legalization has made an already critical shortage of drivers worse. While motor carriers continue to tell their truck drivers that they are in violation of the law if there is even a trace of marijuana in their system, our companies continue to see high failure rates on drug tests.While our industry anticipated the challenge associated with a higher failure rate for drug tests, we did not foresee some of the other challenges associated with legalization.One major surprise was the space/storage requirements for the marijuana industry.The marijuana industry is much more than the local shop that sells the product. It requires an infrastructure of “grow houses” and warehouses to support the business. The price of warehouse space as well as terminals (that have been converted) has risen dramatically, and there is now a shortage of space.”