As an employer, you want to trust that when employees arrive for work each day, they are presenting their “best self”.

Productive.  Safe.  Contributing to your businesses goals and objectives.

But what happens when that integrity is called into question?  Do you really know what you are up against?

How confident are your impairment detection skills?

While you may “think” you know the ins and outs of marijuana, the game is changing and the stakes have never been higher!

Here’s what you need to know.

Marijuana – The Facts

Marijuana is the most frequently used illicit drug in the United States, and approximately 7.8% of people 12 or older report using marijuana in the past month. The National Safety Council explains that among working adults, nearly 2% were dependent on marijuana. Though marijuana is currently considered an illicit substance by the federal government, attitudes toward de-criminalization are shifting quickly towards support.

In 2016, approximately 57% of Americans thought that marijuana should be legal, almost double the 32% who supported in 2006.

The changing of public attitudes make marijuana a significant issue for you, the employer!


They are changing the game as to how it can be used in the workplace.

The New “Edible” Threat

Described as a “completely different animal”, edible marijuana dangers are expected to rise right along with the predicted sales rate – $20.2 billion by 2021. Consumption of marijuana by edible means presents a new challenge.  What was once easily detected by a distinct smell is now odorless.  It is now entering the working environment in much more discrete ways – ranging from baked goods, tablets, and even candies.

There is a high potential for overdose due to:

  • Users consuming larger amounts of the drug – Due to the delay in effect after consumption, users may consume larger amounts, thinking the drug isn’t working.
  • The amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is very difficult to measure.
  • Current medications may impact the body’s ability to metabolize THC – resulting in up to five times as much THC in the bloodstream.
  • Overdose symptoms from eating marijuana are often more severe than symptoms of an overdose from smoking marijuana.

Side effects typically associated with edible overdose include:  extreme paranoia and anxiety bordering on psychotic behavior.

Safety Protection

The key to protection is a 3 prong approach:

1. Employee Education

There’s a widely known saying….employees don’t know what they don’t know.

Take the time to educate employees as to the dangers of edible marijuana.  Ensure they understand that even though they may not utilize the drug during working hours, the effects of edible marijuana can last up to 12 hours.  This not only makes them a danger to themselves but also co-workers and the public.

2. Effective Drug/Alcohol Testing Programs

While many employers utilize pre-employment testing, post-accident and reasonable cause, many fail to utilize one of the best resources available.  Random testing.

Not only does random testing accurately assess the health of your workforce, it sends a strong message – we care about our employees and are committed to a safe working environment.

3. Impairment Detection Training

Gone are the days of thinking managers are the only people who need to know about impairment detection recognition.

We live in a world of “see something, say something” and that applies to impairment too!

While it may be the role of a supervisor to further investigate, everybody needs to be able to recognize an employee who may be impaired.

Symptoms include:

  • Red eyes
  • Poor muscle and limb coordination
  • Delayed reaction times and abilities
  • Sudden shift in mood
  • Anxiety, panic and/or hallucinations
  • Distorted senses

While the attitudes towards marijuana may be changing, the risk remains!  Take the time to educate yourself and others.

Together we can make the work environment a safer place!

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