Pennsylvania workers may be aware that the use of marijuana for medical reasons is becoming more prevalent throughout the nation as more states are legalizing it. While medical marijuana often has benefits for many users, there are workplace safety concerns around the drug.
Although there have been no reported cases of a fatal overdose caused by marijuana use, there are some known side effects. These can include hallucinations, seizures, sedation and panic attacks. Further, some users may experience slowed reaction times and cognitive impairment, which could put an employee at serious risk for injury. Numerous research studies have concluded that marijuana use can have a negative impact on learning memory, reasoning and concentration. It should be noted, however, that not all research reached a unanimous conclusion, as some found that there was no association between the use of medical marijuana and the risk of workplace accidents.
For some employers, the policy implications of legalizing medical marijuana can be challenging. Some federally regulated industries, such as those dealing with transportation, are required to drug test for workplace safety reasons. When it comes to other industries, however, a zero-tolerance policy may not be the most appropriate. Employers who are considering updating their company policy should differentiate between jobs that have safety concerns and those that do not.
Most employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage for the benefit of their employees. Many also have policies that require a drug test after someone is injured on the job. A person who is legally taking medical marijuana and who has been in a workplace accident may want to have the assistance of counsel in the event the company denies a claim for benefits.