Does Public Safety outweigh the individual’s right to use Cannabis? Cannabis use or the legalization of cannabis has been a hotly debated topic for many decades and with the onset of the War on Drugs, cannabis has been classified as a Schedule I drug as a part of the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. To clarify for our readers, Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. Interestingly, until 1942 cannabis was listed a legal medicine which prompts us to ask, what happened in a span of 28 years that changed the policy regarding utilization of cannabis. The argument stands as follows: medicinal benefit vs. high toxic substance with the “potential to create psychological and/or physical dependence”.
As legislator and special interests battle it out in each state, the real question is how does this impact public safety. Do we truly understand the ramifications of legalization of a substance that has the ability to impair the user, thus potentially placing the public at risk? Public safety, especially in an employment setting is a crucial matter to consider especially when there is a threat to employees and the public. Those that function impaired jeopardize the health and safety of many. If we consider the types of demanding employment such as, construction, first responders, transportation industry and health care professionals, we can quickly see how an impaired employee can cause massive damage. For example, imagine a construction worker whom we rely on to ensure high level workmanship when building skyscrapers, bridges and multi-residential homes being impaired. The number of people and families at risk is enormous and potential death rates may be astronomical. Or, in the case of health care workers administering the wrong dose, or the wrong medication to patient in the ICU.
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So, which path should employers take? Undoubtedly, this does impact employers which may usher in an onslaught of potential litigation for employers who may be held responsible for these potential situations. With that said, should employers accept decisions made by legislators who are pressured by special interest and reelection considerations or should employers consider public safety as the primary focus. If it’s the latter, then necessary steps are required to avoid catastrophes. It’s always wise to consult with an attorney regarding these questions and to better understand a strategy that is within legal confines. However, one solution is of course to test your employees. How does drug testing work and what do employers need to know? Drug testing is a simple and quick option that should be discussed at the management and executive level of the company, under the consultation of human resources who are knowledgeable about local, state and federal laws regarding employee rights. It’s important to uphold public safety as well as to protect employees’ rights and to avoid potential lawsuits. Therefore, have a plan in place and consider making testing a company policy.
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