Safety is a primary concern for all manufacturing, distribution and other businesses. For decades, many businesses have strictly enforced prohibitions about reporting or remaining at work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Fast forward to January 1, 2020 … Illinois legalizes recreational use of marijuana. Marijuana use should increase as it becomes more available. How will this impact safety, safety compliance efforts and Illinois employers?
Impact on Safety
There can be little doubt that employee safety will be negatively impacted by the new law. People under the influence of drugs are … under the influence of drugs after all. They are impaired, to a lesser or greater extent than is normally the case. The severity and frequency of additional accidents which occur due to Illinois’ new law is unknown at this time. Everyone hopes that the impact will be small but only time will tell.
Impact on Safety Compliance Efforts
Today, many organizations have a zero tolerance policy relative to marijuana use. If you have any THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in your bloodstream, you either aren’t hired or disciplined.
Some organizations allow small amounts of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream without negative impact to the person (policies frequently vary from .04 to .02 BAC). Will these same organizations allow residual amounts of THC in their employee’s bloodstreams? If so, what will that amount be?
Impact on Illinois Employers
Many Illinois employers are feeling besieged today. Unemployment is at a 50 year low. It is nearly impossible to find qualified employees. Taxes are increasing. The minimum wage was just increased. Now, Illinois employers have to figure out what to do about marijuana use. Just one more brick on an already large load.
The Path Forward
In this case, I suggest getting ahead of this potential problem. More people will use recreational marijuana than is currently the case. Most will use it appropriately and safely; some will not.
It is important that you decide how you will handle this issue in your workforce. When is a little THC too much? How will you handle recreational marijuana use to maintain your workforce and its safety?
As a safety consulting organization, we believe that good answers start with focus and staying ahead of issues. We recommend that you start working on this issue now. If we can provide insight or assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Please contact us with questions or comment via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at:
309.664.7741 (Central Illinois)