The Rising Use of Marijuana
Data from Quest Diagnostics shows that the positivity rate for marijuana use in the U.S. workforce has climbed by almost 30 percent since 2015. For safety-sensitive employees, positivity rates have increased by 25 percent.
It’s an issue that will likely continue to worsen as state legalization of the drug sweeps across the country and more adults turn to marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use.
“Marijuana continues to be an enduring presence in the U.S. workforce. Changing attitudes toward its use could pose heightened risks especially in safety-sensitive positions and those states exploring legalization,” said Dr. Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology, Quest Diagnostics.
The problem for motor carriers is this: although many states have chosen some form of marijuana legalization, the drug remains illegal at the federal level. That means even if your driver has a prescription, they cannot take the drug and continue to drive for your company.
What About CBD Oil?
Complicating this issue is the growing popularity of cannabidiol (CBD) oil. This over-the-counter remedy is being used by those looking for a natural alternative to a host of ailments – from insomnia to pain management. However, because the oil is derived from either the hemp or marijuana plant, it can contain low levels of THC. And while users of CBD won’t experience the same “high” as they’d get with marijuana, the amount of THC in the oil can trigger a positive drug test result – even in oils that are marketed as having “no THC.”
A number of drivers have already lost their jobs due to positive drug tests that were triggered by their use of CBD oil. One driver has even filed a lawsuit against a CBD oil manufacturer after he lost his job because of a positive drug test result.
Education is Key
As a motor carrier, the best way to maintain a drug-free workplace is to educate you drivers on the implications of using marijuana and CBD oil while working for your company. While both of these substances may be legal to use in the state they live in, even occasional usage can result in a positive DOT drug screen which could jeopardize their career as a commercial motor vehicle driver – both at your company and in the future.
The best piece of advice you can give? Tell drivers to avoid all forms of marijuana and CBD oil while employed as a commercial motor vehicle driver until (if and when) the federal government loosens its restrictions on THC usage.
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