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Safety officials: Better testing and employment guidance on cannabis improve the workplace

The Maryland House of Delegates’ Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Working Group is holding a briefing Dec. 20 to review cannabis legalization and its impact on workplace policy, laws, and safety. screenshot.
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As Maryland lawmakers continue to gather information to craft legislation on legalizing cannabis, they learned more this week about how the drug affects a person’s job.

the House of Delegates Working Group on Cannabis Referendum and Legislation A briefing was held on Tuesday to hear about ways to improve workplace safety in the age of legal cannabis.

said Jane Terry, vice president of government affairs for the National Safety Council Various studies Car accident rates increased after the legalization of cannabis.

Terry said the council, which is based in Itasca, Illinois, does not take a position on legalization. But she outlined some proposed legislation Maryland lawmakers could implement to reduce auto accidents and road deaths before recreational use becomes legal in July. Some of them include:

  • Improved roadside oral fluid testing for drivers under the influence of cannabis.
  • Better toxicology data and testing for compounds implicated in fatal accidents, especially for THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical compound in cannabis that produces “High sensation. “
  • Improve training for the entire legal system to understand cannabis.

“What we really want to take home is that it weakens when used and can have safety impacts,” Terry said.

One of the council’s regional affiliates, the Chesapeake County Safety Council based in Baltimore County, works with “high risk” businesses such as construction companies. Dave Madaras, president of the Chesapeake County Safety Board, said the construction industry accounts for 5% of the nation’s workforce but 20% of workplace deaths.

He said some of these workers who work in “safety-sensitive locations” such as crane and signal operators and electricians use medical cannabis for various health purposes. Since they are subject to drug and alcohol testing, this can lead to them losing their jobs.

“Our concern is … if they’re using it, they come to work and they take a drug test and they show positive based on the urinalysis, it doesn’t mean they’re vulnerable,” he said. “It just means they have enough THC metabolite in their system for a drug test trip.”

To increase safety in the workplace, on the roads and in the community, the Chesapeake Council He conducts cannabis training with the group’s safety personnel. Law enforcement officials also participate in and run some classes for law enforcement trainees.

Madaras said volunteer members with medical cannabis cards use the drug during training sessions at his facility. The council has provided transportation for everyone who participated in the dozens of trainings that have been held so far.

Some of the sessions include a briefing on cannabis, an assessment of what type of impairment the person may be experiencing, and an investigation of why each person uses cannabis.

“We are trying to develop a robust vulnerability recognition program for our safety professionals,” Madaras said.

Members of the National Safety Council also told lawmakers that they are assessing the business and safety impacts on treatment, insurance, operating equipment and productivity.

some policy solutions They include allowing workplace drug testing to include cannabis, allowing employers to identify “safety-sensitive” jobs and increasing workers’ therapeutic capacity.

Del said. CT Wilson (D-Charles) said the recommendations would protect a certain class of workers who use cannabis and “should not be fired or not tested.”

Del said. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery) Testing for THC and trying to assess levels of impairment can have a negative impact on drivers, especially those with a disability.

Terry of the National Safety Council said there is no science to end THC and recommends that the state not legalize it. She said improved toxicology testing would help provide better knowledge of the substances people use while driving.

“Just in general, we want a better understanding of what are the harmful substances that people use on the roads,” she said. “we [must] We have a more robust testing system that we don’t have today.”

The Cannabis Action Group will meet again at 1 p.m. on Jan. 5, six days before the 90-day legislative session.

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