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Cannabis continues to be a smoking hot topic

An update on the industry, including ideas for dealing with impairment

posted April 17, 2017

Oregon's cannabis industry continues to be hot topicOregon's cannabis industry continues to be a hot topic and an area of interest around the state. The recreational side of the cannabis industry is regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). OLCC rules outline a number of requirements for cannabis businesses that are beyond what SAIF would typically require for other industries, such as highly detailed inventory tracking, sophisticated security systems, facility inspections, and engineered equipment certifications.

The Oregon Health Authority manages the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program and the rules that govern it. While the rules are similar to OLCC rules, there are differences, including inspection programs.

Oregon Health Authority manages the governing rulesSince there are serious safety and health concerns about explosions from cannabis extraction operations, more information is typically requested for these submissions. Oregon rules prohibit the commonly reported home-based approach to extraction, and businesses that have applied for a processor (extraction) license are very familiar with the additional information that SAIF might request.

The most common concern we hear from employers continues to be impairment from the use of cannabis and cannabis-infused products. There are blood, urine, and hair tests that can track cannabis' active ingredient, THC, in the body. However, different metabolisms and the length of time that THC stays in the body make it challenging for any of these tests to determine the actual intake time.

One effective approach is to address substances of abuse within the broader category of impairment.

Impairment can be caused by dozens of factors, including legal and illegal drugs, over-the-counter medications, alcohol, prescription medications, fatigue, illness, known and unknown health conditions, and stress. Impairment, in the broadest sense, has a direct connection to workplace safety.

Using an HR consultant or employment law attorney will help businesses navigate the complexities of creating a well-written and effective substance abuse and impairment policy. Best practices for managing impairment focus on job performance, productivity, and workplace behaviors:

  • Make certain workplace expectations and policies are clear and current.
  • Provide supervisor/manager training on performance and behavior conversations.
  • Consult an expert to develop solutions.

In December, Oregon OSHA published a new post-incident drug and alcohol fact sheet that explains the retaliation prohibitions included in the rules for recording workplace injuries and illnesses.