Marijuana Impairment in the Workplace

With Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington legalizing “recreational marijuana” many folks are buying into the false narrative that marijuana is a harmless and “natural” drug; and that users can safely perform job functions just as well as their non-using counterparts. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 The physical and mental impairment effects of marijuana remain in the system for long periods of time. Unlike alcohol and other drugs, which are quickly eliminated from the body, THC(tetrahydrocannabinol) remains in the body long after use. THC is a fat soluble chemical, causing it to bind to fat molecules in the body. The subsequent “slow release” of  THC into the body causes ongoing physical & mental impairment. Even though a user may claim they’re not “buzzed”, since they haven’t smoked in a day or two, there is still significant and ongoing physical and mental impairment due to the release of the stored THC. Depending on how often and how much a person uses, the slow release effects can last up to 30 days or more.

Frequent users begin to build a physical tolerance towards THC. In order to get the “buzz” they want, they need to smoke more often or use marijuana containing higher levels of THC. Because of this, a regular user will build up higher levels of stored THC in the body. This causes the  “slow release” effects to be stronger and last longer, producing a higher and longer level of physical and mental impairment.

Marijuana is not the soft, harmless drug its proponents would have you believe. It’s a powerful and addictive drug which can have devastating consequences in the workplace. Users put themselves, fellow employees and the general public at risk. For an employer, the safety and liability risks can be tremendous.

Keep in mind that although recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in these states, this doesn’t mean that employers must accommodate for its use by employees. In other words, people are free to use marijuana, however you as an employer don’t have to accept employees testing positive for marijuana in the workplace.

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