Itasca, IL, 12/4/2020 – In the wake of the U.S. House passing the MORE Act to remove federal penalties around cannabis use, the National Safety Council implores lawmakers to consider the safety impacts of de-scheduling. Cannabis is an impairing substance that presents serious safety risks on the roadways and in the workplace, particularly to workers in safety-sensitive positions. NSC has called on employers to restrict the use of cannabis among workers in safety-sensitive positions, regardless of whether it is permissible to use by state law. We remind employers again that even if laws permit cannabis use, impairment-free workplace policies are encouraged, particularly for occupations where lives are at stake, such as transportation, manufacturing, construction and warehouse work.
NSC concerns are focused on workplace safety. Impaired workers pose a safety risk to their colleagues and others with whom they may come into contact. It is unlikely this bill will pass the U.S. Senate, and we urge Congress to hold hearings next year to explore the safety impacts of removing marijuana from schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act and move forward legislation to expand research on marijuana like S. 2032.
One benefit in the MORE Act includes the removal of punitive actions for drug violations. This action, for example, could clear the way for more widespread access to treatment. Additionally, we need an evidence-based standard for detecting cannabis impairment in driving and other safety-sensitive operations, and we do not have one. We owe it to our employees and communities to address the public safety side of cannabis, first and foremost.
All impairing substances – legal and illicit – can create issues for employers that extend beyond safety and impact bottom lines. Employee substance misuse can cost employers hundreds of thousands each year in lost productivity, turnover and healthcare – but addressing substance misuse through workplace programs can nearly erase those loses. Employers can see their individual costs by using the Substance Use Cost Calculator.