February 6, 2016

Marijuana Legalization Could Pose Workplace Safety Issue

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Montpelier (Feb 3) – The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs heard testimony Wednesday morning regarding the legalization of marijuana in the state of Vermont. Concerned about the effects marijuana legalization would have on workers and workplace safety, the committee heard from Dave Molloy of Bellavance Trucking, a local Vermont company. It became clear that there are still many unanswered questions regarding the safety of marijuana in the workplace that translate into concerns about general public safety.

Molloy raised serious concerns regarding government regulated drug testing and company liability stating that the “current testing is not adequate.” The current federal law has zero tolerance for alcohol and drugs in the workplace; however, it is hard to tell if an employee if breaking that law because targeted drug testing is not permitted. Drug testing is random, and doesn’t happen regularly. This makes it difficult because if an employee is known to be a marijuana user during work after hours, it is not permitted for the company to test this employee despite having reasonable motive to do so. This puts the liability of the company at risk, and has forced Molloy to ask the serious question of “how do you manage liability.”

This issue raises another, overarching issue with marijuana. There is no good way to detect marijuana. A major concern is that of impaired driving due to marijuana. Unlike alcohol with the field sobriety test, there is no clear way to tell if somebody is under the influence of marijuana. In the case of Bellavance trucking, this issue comes into play with their truck drivers and their safety. How can they tell if a driver is impaired if they’re not allowed to drug test drivers unless they’re driving vehicles of 26,000 pounds and over. Molloy stated that what needs to be done is to “Drill down on liability and testing.” All that’s needed is an accurate test to be able to tell if someone is high and the ability to administer that test to more people more often. The committee agreed with Molloy, and will clearly have a lot to think about.

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