The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a press release warning users on the risks of being high behind the wheel, along with guidelines for employers to prevent their employees from being stoned at the workplace.
“Studies have shown that the risk of being involved in a crash increases after marijuana use. Still, marijuana’s specific contribution to crash risk is unclear because it can be detected in body fluids for days or even weeks after use,” the study reads.
The CDC states that cannabis can affect one’s movement, balance, and coordination, along with impacting one’s perception and problem-solving abilities.
The new release demonstrates that the CDC seems aware that cannabis use is inevitable even though they have not greenlit cannabis consumption.
The underlined concern surrounding cannabis legalization is public safety. For years, politicians and anti-cannabis advocates convinced the public that smoking a joint or hitting a bong would be the downfall of society.
As more states legalize cannabis and our Northern neighbors launch recreational markets across Canada, the general public has a keen interest in seeing federal legalization.
Lawmakers and officials remain concerned about the implications a legal cannabis market would have on road safety.
Ultimately, the CDC does not want people driving impaired under any circumstance, even after admitting there’s no concrete evidence proving the correlation between accidents and cannabis use.
Meanwhile, the CDC’s guideline for employers provides a comprehensive breakdown of what companies should be providing.
The CDC recommends drafting a complete cannabis policy that considers the current laws surrounding cannabis. Creating the policy means teaming up with a qualified attorney with a comprehensive understanding of the current state cannabis laws to review the policy and offer feedback where needed.
The CDC acknowledged that it might no longer be feasible to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on cannabis use. However, they suggest creating rules that prevent employees from consuming cannabis during or before their shift.
Enacting a policy that prevents cannabis consumption at the workplace is particularly important for employees who must operate motor vehicles during their shifts.
Employers must provide drivers with the proper education and resources, including the effects cannabis has on motor skills and cognitive functions, the company’s cannabis policy, and how driving impaired after consuming cannabis is similar to fatigue and using medications behind the wheel.
Additionally, there should be warnings for drivers about the use of unregulated CBD products that can contain more THC than advertised.
Every company’s marijuana policy will be different, but employers must be specific about their rules. Drug testing is still permitted, but employers must offer a detailed policy surrounding when they will occur, whether conducted at random, when intoxication is suspected, or after a crash.
The CDC suggests teaming with a “medical professional with training in interpreting THC drug tests.” The medical professional’s help should also provide managers and supervisors better resources in identifying signs of impairment.
There have been conflicting reports surrounding road safety and legalizing cannabis. The Insurance Institute Of Highway Safety (IIHS) study revealed that crash rates spiked in states that legalized cannabis for recreational use.
However, another article published by the IIHS stated that preliminary results indicated that drivers who used cannabis alone were “no more likely to be involved in crashes than drivers who hadn’t used the drug.”
IIHS-HLDI President David Harkey said that safety professionals and lawmakers need to be more aware of cannabis use and how it affects drivers.
In Canada, where cannabis has been federally legal for the past three years, researchers determined that legalization hasn’t affected the rates of driving-related injuries. Russell Callaghan, a University of Northern B.C psychologist, said there was “no increase in the overall rate of car accident injuries in adults or youth” after comparing the statistics of ambulance reports in the four years leading up to legalization and the fourteen months following it. Callaghan explained that it could’ve been due to the passing of Bill C-46 shortly after legalization to combat impaired driving.
The CDC’s recently published article is a vital sign that federal legalization is more tangible than it’s ever been. More bipartisan support on creating a regulated cannabis market and the recent law that allows scientists access to statewide dispensary cannabis seems to be a promising sign for the industry across the nation.