What is the Financial Impact of Using Marijuana at Work?

While users of marijuana will commonly say there are no negative effects of using it, scientific research has shown many short and long term effects of using the drug. What makes matters worse is that more and more people in the United States are using the drug during their lunch break, meaning they are under the influence for half of their workday. But how bad is getting high during work and does the company actually lose money because of the drug use?

Working with someone who is under the influence of marijuana can be dangerous, as even the short term effects of the drug can cause immediate problems in the workplace. If  the person works in a factory and operates a tow motor, they become a danger to everyone they work with. When smoked, marijuana has an effect that can last from one to three hours. This means that it will probably last for the remainder of the individuals shift. Operating heavy machinery requires lots of focus and coordination, something that is lost under the influence. A person could knock over shelves of products or even run into people, all because their judgment and coordination are greatly impacted.One countermeasure that businesses have implemented is drug testing the entire workforce to ensure that everyone in the business is clean and the workplace is as safe as possible. Most workplaces test everyone, including the executives, showing that they take the issue of drug use in the workplace serious. Also, using cannabis in the workplace affects office staff too, because the drug can make them lazy, unfocused and forgetful. In the 1980′s, Elizabeth Dole helped to incorporate a drug testing program at the White House and made sure all where tested, including herself. This was an important step to cleaning up the work environment in the United States, because if the White House does it, so should everyone else.

Most companies now require an initial drug test, but most are very lax on random drug testing after the pre-hire test. This is an area of concern, as OSHA studies show that almost 13 million Americans who abuse illicit drugs were employed either full-time or part-time. Also, studies show that between 10 and 20 percent of workplace fatalities occurred because of drug abuse. This can cost a company a lot of money in lawsuits, counseling expenses and much more.

Is it cheaper for a company to not test and deal with the money loss when it occurs? Maybe in theory, and that is an argument proponents against drug testing will stand behind wholeheartedly. However, while it may be cheaper, it can lead to a culture of drug abuse at the workplace, lower productivity and loss of morale because people know that drug abuse is rampant in a certain business. In the long run, a drug testing program is needed to keep a company profitable. It is not a matter of greed, because if the company isn’t productive, no one has a job.

Some industries are pro-active in combating drug use, mostly because drug use in their industry has a great impact on society. One area that drug tests heavily is the truck driving industry, due to the huge responsibility they have of driving 18 wheeled vehicles at 65 mph across the country. If a vehicle has a weight rating of 10,001+, a gross vehicle weight rating over 26,001, transports hazardous materials, or transports more than 15 people, then the drivers need to take regular drug screenings. This does not include people like limo drivers, but all bus drivers, whether it is for a school or a non-profit organization like a church, must pass a DOT approved test.

A company that wants to have a drug testing program needs to specifically outline the program and their policy on drug use and stick to it for every employee. Failure to have a policy in writing and signed by the employees can result in lawsuits for the company. Also, treating employees who failed differently can also result in lawsuits. All employees must be treated fairly and in accordance with the policy that is set before the program is implemented.

Employees also need to understand that is they get fired from their job for a drug violation, they may not be eligible for unemployment benefits through the state or federal government. They may also be denied COBRA insurance benefits if they are fired for cannabis use. Finally, if a worker is injured while under the influence of a drug, they may be denied worker’s compensation, which would cause a huge financial burden on them.

Drug use in the workplace costs everyone money, from the company that employs the user to the employee that abuses the drug. It even costs the worker money who doesn’t use, as a careless employee could force the company to be shut down due to recklessness. While the medical facilities and suppliers of the drug testing supplies are making a lot of money, it is for the good of the employees. They need proper tests that detect usage to protect other people in the business, so even though someone else is making a fortune off of testing, it is ultimately protecting the jobs of regular employees who follow company policy.