Jan 10, 2017 12:20 PM

5 Employer's Concerns Over Cannabis Use at Work

The issue of cannabis use in the workplace has increased in importance after six more states legalized marijuana last November. Despite the obvious benefits of marijuana legally improving the health of a greater amount of people, employers are raising concerns over the possible negative impact of weed use on workplace safety and productivity. There is a list of the major issues employers have with marijuana use in the workplace.

Safety Concerns

The question of safety in weed consumption at work is positioned as the most disturbing for employers. Companies are concerned that cannabis usage may increase the number of job injuries and accidents because of marijuana's psychoactive effects. It is well known that marijuana can temporary impair body movements, slow down reaction, and reduce attention. Employees working at construction sites may deal with heavy equipment, operate transport vehicles, and so on. By consuming weed in the workplace, they put the lives of many people at risk.

Ohioans Using Medical Cannabis Risk Their Jobs
Ohioans Using Medical Cannabis Risk Their Jobs
The forthcoming legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio will not abridge the right of local employers to fire workers for consuming legally-prescribed cannabis.

Matter of Policy

Most companies spend many years on building a corporate culture that makes competition, professionalism, and success top priorities. Thus, cannabis is a nightmare for employers as its usage may destroy the main principles of the corporate culture. Could you imagine a multi-billion-dollar company stating that its workers consume marijuana? Such a statement can instantly devalue the company's share prices and harm its business reputation. Fortunately, the legislation of many states permits cannabis use in case it does not impact workplace safety. This may stimulate companies to revise their policy of ultimate prohibition of drugs and make an exception for some categories of their employees.

Marijuana Legalization Changes Pentagon Employment Policy
Marijuana Legalization Changes Pentagon Employment Policy
The Pentagon is changing its employment limitations to meet new realities, and past marijuana consumers can now apply for a job with the military, the U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in his interview at the last TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF 2016 conference in San Francisco.

Increased Medical Costs

The legalization of recreational cannabis in some U.S. states has multiplied companies' concerns about the medical costs of employees. The main reason why employers strictly ban drug usage in the workplace is the risk of possible overdose. If an employee becomes over-intoxicated at work or their impairment condition leads to serious injuries, then the employer has to cover all medical costs. In such a case, the costs may be very high for a company's budget. That is why most companies try to avoid accidents induced by drug use and call for passing a law that would deny company's responsibility for accidents caused by marijuana intoxication.

Changing Attitudes

Companies also worry that cannabis may hurt their profits, as stoned workers allegedly become less productive in the workplace and take more days of disability leave. However, some employers have changed their attitude to marijuana after its legalization. Those who have allowed pot usage in the workplace have noticed that cannabis increases the worker's productivity and reduces their absence because of health issues.

Weed Decreases Frequency of Sickness Absence Among Employees
Weed Decreases Frequency of Sickness Absence Among Employees
Despite the myth that marijuana legalization might decrease users' workplace productivity, the journal Health Economics has recently published a study that reveals the opposite effect of medical marijuana on employees.

Compliance With Policy

There is also the problem of compliance with the adopted drug bans. It is not enough to just establish the rules; the companies have to ensure that their employees follow them. To solve this issue, many employers are now implementing random drug tests, which are hard to conduct especially if the state has legalized the adult use of marijuana. Employees claim that they smoke cannabis before or after their working hours, but the compounds of weed stay in their blood long after pot consumption. However, companies are still desperately trying to protect their work environment. Thus, the battle between anti-cannabis employers and employees using marijuana continues with no end in sight.

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One American Per Minute Arrested for Marijuana Possession
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Ohioans Using Medical Cannabis Risk Their Jobs
The forthcoming legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio will not abridge the right of local employers to fire workers for consuming legally-prescribed cannabis.
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