An article featured two days ago on this site reported results of a survey conducted by the National Safety Council, conducted “as part of an ongoing effort to assess the risks of cannabis in the workplace.” According to the report, the results, unlike the thought processes of employees smoking pot, are clear. The NSC concluded that “employers must do more to educate and protect their workers.” The study represents 500 employers and 1,000 employees and showed “significant gaps in knowledge and safety.” 

I must say, this survey appears to have been more successfully executed than similar attempts by other organizations. Those attempts to research cannabis in the workplace utterly failed when researchers forgot what they were studying, or lost all their documentation at 3 AM in the drive-thru at Taco Bell. 

It is hard to stay focused when you are studying marijuana, apparently.

The survey found, not unsurprisingly, that cannabis can have a “major impact on the safety of employees, and cannabis legalization is creating new challenges for employers.” 

Well, duh. You’d have to be stoned on your fanny not to know that.

It was surprising to learn that one-third of employees reported they have observed cannabis use during work hours. Two-thirds apparently couldn’t remember if they’d seen anything or couldn’t recall the question.

The study also found:

  • Less than half of organizations have a written policy addressing cannabis
  • Employees are in need of clear communication about cannabis and employer policy
  • More than half of employers that eliminated THC testing reported seeing an increase in incidents or other workplace performance concerns
  • Despite what employers believe, less than half of employees reported they would feel comfortable telling supervisors they were too impaired to work

The only surprise in that list is the last bullet point. What employer believes their employees would feel comfortable telling them they’re “too impaired to work?” I suppose one that might be impaired themselves, perhaps. As to the finding that less than half of employers have a written policy regarding cannabis, it is possible the numbers would be higher, had the employer not lost the paperwork at 3 AM in a Taco Bell drive-thru.

The study does underscore the tremendous conflict faced by employers today. With states legalizing the use, and in some cases courts ordering provision of medical cannabis, employers are caught in the potential crosshairs of conflicting Federal regulations on the subject. And for employers directly subject to Federal requirements, such as FDOT standards, it is especially challenging.

But that does explain why there is such a shortage of interstate truck drivers today. They’re all sitting in a Taco Bell drive-thru wondering where all the loose papers came from. 

The NSC recommends employers develop a “culture of safety, accountability, and honesty among its employees as it pertains to cannabis, regardless of legality,” and have made the following recommendations:

  • Establish a clear, fair cannabis policy that prevents impairment in the workplace and provides support for employees
  • Build a safety-focused, trusting culture for employees to report cannabis use in the workplace
  • Advocate for increased access to employee assistance programs and health care benefits for those with substance use disorders
  • Train supervisors to recognize and respond to impairment in the workplace

I suppose it is all good advice, but I’m not sure how you build a “safety-focused, trusting culture” that facilitates narcing on your stoned co-workers. Don’t get me wrong, employers should establish a safe system for reporting cannabis use on the job site. I just don’t know how that is done while employing group hugs and collectively singing Kum-Ba-Yah.

I don’t believe the study addressed the challenges employers face on the topic now that many of their employees are working from their kitchen table. The advent of home-based employment will just be another complication on the topic. 

I suppose that will have to be left for the next smokin’ cannabis study. Or cannabis smokin’ study. Whichever. 

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