Interesting article by Dr. Kelly Arps of abc news reports that a survey released by the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) Thursday may help inform employers about marijuana use in their industry.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) — a phone survey about health habits in general — and published a breakdown of marijuana use by industry and job.
Of the more than 10,000 workers surveyed, 14.6 percent answered yes to the question, “Did you use marijuana or hashish in the last 30 days?” They were not asked whether they used marijuana while on the job. Not surprisingly, use was more common in males and among young people, with nearly 30 percent of those in the 18- to 25-year-old age group reporting at least one use in 30 days.
Which profession smokes the most pot?
In the “accommodation and food services” industry, 30 percent of workers reported smoking pot at least once in the past month. Those in the job category “food preparation and serving” had the highest use at 32 percent of workers.
What other professions have a high proportion of marijuana users?
“Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media” came in second at 28 percent. Marijuana use was also reported by 19 to 21 percent of workers in “production,” “life, physical, and social science,” “sales and related,” and “installation, maintenance, and repair.”
What about people in high risk jobs?
While the study doesn’t reveal if anyone actually got high on the job, the researchers did take a special look at industries in “safety-sensitive occupations” in which workers are responsible for their own safety or the safety of others.
Those in construction, manufacturing, and agriculture industries all fell above the state average in percentage of workers reporting marijuana use. Notably, healthcare, utilities, or mining, oil, and gas all had less than 10 percent of their workers report marijuana use.
All three of these low-use industries are also those known to perform drug testing on employees.
Next steps: Workplace marijuana use policies
In states where marijuana use is legal, companies are currently left to their own judgment regarding workplace use.
Those with a policy that allows medicinal or recreational marijuana use during personal time will have difficulty interpreting a positive drug screen — was the employee high at work or does the result reflect his or her use last weekend?
Experts have suggested implementing standardized cognitive testing rather than drug screens for those approved to use marijuana while employed — or for those with a suspected marijuana-related workplace safety incident.
Marijuana use is frequently linked to mental health issues
Dr. Arps reports that if an employee is using marijuana, then employers should dig further.
Dr. Arps also reports that federal law allows employers to prohibit employees from working under the influence of marijuana and may discipline employees who violate the prohibition without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Several states have laws, however, which prohibit discrimination based on its use, citing evidence supporting the positive effects of marijuana on various health conditions.
“With widespread legalization, we will likely see publicized court cases surrounding these issues,” says Dr. Arps.
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