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Increased Use of Marijuana Linked to Increasing Workplace Related Accidents

According to the National Institute of Health, the use of marijuana in the US has doubled between 2001 & 2013.

missouri worker smoking Marijuana

Decriminalization of the use of marijuana and legalization of its medical purpose has been implemented in more than half of the states in the US. Four states – Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska have even made recreational use of marijuana legal. Many suggest that America is on its way to completely decriminalizing the use of marijuana.

The question that lies here is will the changing and lax rules about the use of marijuana affect workplace safety and affect the rate of drug use in other states like Missouri that still restrict marijuana use? Consider the following.

Use of Marijuana

According to numbers from the National Institute of Health, the use of marijuana in the US has doubled between 2001 and 2013. Moreover, about 10% of Americans report using marijuana in the past year.

According to researchers, the increase in usage is linked to the increased acceptance of the drug. Additionally, the increased acceptance comes at a time when the potency of the drug is at its highest. The 1970s saw an increase in the consumption of marijuana; however, the THC content (the active ingredient of marijuana) of the drug at the time was 1%, as compared to today’s 13 – 25%.

Effects of the drug on workers

Marijuana is, after all, a drug that causes impaired judgment. Therefore workers showing up at work under the influence of marijuana (even if used for medicinal purposes) may be at a risk. They can endanger not only themselves but others around them as well. Marijuana has been linked to many workplace accidents, especially in the construction, transportation, manufacturing and warehousing industries.

The following are some of the effects of marijuana –

  • Impairment in the thought process
  • Short-term memory loss issues
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Low concentration
  • Changes in sensory perception
  • Decreased reaction time and alertness
  • Low ability to perform complex tasks

With the effects of marijuana lasting anywhere between 2 to 6 hours, any worker using marijuana even four hours before a work shift can endanger himself as well as co-workers from work-related accidents caused by impaired judgment.

The law

According to the law, even states where the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is legal, employers can ban the use of impairing substances. Like alcohol use, if it is believed that those under influence pose a risk to themselves and their co-workers, employers can ban as well as monitor employees for the abuse of marijuana. Marijuana traces can show up in the urine of a regular user for about six weeks, and an occasional user for about five days.

In the state of Missouri, use and possession of marijuana is illegal. However, Missouri could soon pass the law for legalizing medical marijuana usage.

Workers compensation for the injured

Accidents at work can severely disrupt normal life. In financial terms, any accident or injury at work can prove to be a heavy burden, more so for families relying on a sole income. Therefore, if any injury or accident at the workplace is caused due to the consumption of marijuana – even if it is a co-worker – one can generally claim workers compensation benefits. Call (816) 399-3706 for a free case evaluation with an experienced Kansas City MO Workers Compensation Attorney.

Updated: June 14, 2019

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