There is something new at RIMS this year. It is the Thought Leader Theater, a small presentation room set up in the middle of the exhibit hall floor that provides “mini sessions” on a variety of risk topics throughout the day. Think of it as a McSession, or better yet, the Twitter version of a full presentation, if you can imagine such a thing. 

Sponsored by the folks at QBE, the TLT offers half hour sessions on such varied topics from risking reputation to medical marijuana in the workplace. I attended two of the presentations, one called “Social Media: A Business Risk Worth Taking” and a session called “Medical Marijuana: Coming Soon to a Workplace Near You?”

The medical marijuana issue is something that all employers and workers’ comp professionals will eventually have to grapple with. Presenters Phil Walls of MyMatrixx and Angela Matherly of Snyder’s Lance, Inc., addressed some of the challenges that employers will face with drug test policies, workers compensation claims and more as medical marijuana becomes more prevalent in the future. Walls pointed out that the drug is still federally classified as a Class I drug, which is a grouping reserved for highly addictive and illicit drugs. Any Class I drug is considered an illegal drug simply by the nature of that classification. 

I was slightly amused that one of the presenters at a medical marijuana session, Ms. Matherly, worked for a major snack company making chips, pretzels and assorted salty snacks that tend to be a favorite of the Mary Jane Stoner Brigade. When she was asked what the biggest challenges for her company were on this issue, I half expected her to say “ramping up production”. I suppose she could have said “ramping up production” while all of her employees were stoned on their ass. 

But she did not. Instead, she told us that, so far, they do not have facilities in any of the 18 or so states that have made marijuana legal for medicinal purposes. 

One of the major concerns surrounding medical marijuana is that there are currently drugs available to treat many of the maladies it is alleged to address. The issue is compounded when you combine that with a complete lack of scientific studies looking to the safety and related health risks of medical marijuana. For instance, according to Walls, two marijuana cigarettes contain the equivalent negative health effects of 2 packs of tobacco cigarettes. The issue of conducting drug tests and trying to separate legal use from illegal marijuana use is going to be problematic at best.

One fact shared today almost made me laugh out loud. Studies show that people on medical marijuana are “less motivated to work”. Duh. No kidding. How much did that study cost? They should get their money back.

I also will throw out this possibility; what happens on the factory floor when employees find out the company will buy their pot when they injure themselves? Scary concept indeed. 

Overall, I really liked the Thought Leader Theater concept, even though I am on the record as not liking the phrase “thought leader”. Attendants kept the pace moving and did not let session times run into other time slots. The content was wide ranging, covering many facets in the world of risk. This is a fresh idea designed to give a broad availability of brief yet informative sessions. It’s location in the center of a vibrant exhibit hall also gives it a special feel not found in a traditional session. It is completely outside the box. 

If you are at RIMS, check it out. It is in the RIMS Hub in the center of the exhibit hall. 

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