On The Job Alcohol v. Marijuana Debate
The Job Alcohol v. Marijuana debate usually ends up with an interesting discussion. The job alcohol v. marijuana debate pits the right to privacy against the right to a safe workplace.
A very interesting question popped up on the LinkedIn Work Comp Analysis group concerning marijuana a few days ago. As you probably have heard by now, President Obama had said that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol. This immediately started a debate of which is worse – alcohol or marijuana.
One important point is the President did not say that pot was safer than alcohol. He basically said that it is no worse than alcohol. He did not say it was safer or more dangerous. Taking his comments one step further, should marijuana ever be excused if detected in a pre-employment or post-accident drug test?
According to most of the literature on marijuana, the most active ingredient THC stores in the body’s fat cells for quite some time after ingestion. This is the main difference which is going to be a tough area for on-the-job decisions on WC claims.
Many years ago, I was adjusting a claim where a roofer fell through an open skylight that was taped off using something similar to the yellow police tape. The claim was denied with the green light to take it to a hearing. Even though the worker was shown to be as high as a kite, the WC court decided to rule for benefits. That was the first denial I ever issued for pot.
My main point in denying the file was the yellow police tape being around the open hole in the roof. The employer decided it was best along with counsel to not appeal the case. They did not want to write bad appellate law if the case was lost on appeal.
The one pattern I noticed on the responses to the LinkedIn question was the lack of knowledge concerning marijuana. I wanted to say up front that I am not a marijuana advocate or user. Some of the better sources for marijuana analyses are at these websites:
- Drugs.com is one of the better drug interaction websites. Their marijuana info is here.
- CNN’s Dr. Gupta wrote an interesting article on marijuana. Check it out here.
- From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a study on drug levels in suicide victims is here. The only drawback to this study is the disclaimer is as long as the study.
- This is actually the Whitehouse’s opinion on marijuana. See it here.
Two states (Washington and Colorado) have actually decriminalized pot. However, I do not think any state will change their views on WC laws as it pertains to weed.
This debate will go on for decades as more states such as California, Hawaii, and others attempt to fully legalize marijuana. We are unlikely to hear the end of the Job Alcohol v. Marijuana debate any time soon.
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