OHS Canada Magazine

Legalizing cannabis? U.S. safety council calls on lawmakers to consider workplace impacts

U.S. House passes Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act


Recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018. (Adobe Stock)

In the wake of the U.S. House passing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) to remove federal penalties around cannabis use, the National Safety Council (NSC) is imploring lawmakers to consider the safety impacts of de-scheduling.

Cannabis is an impairing substance that presents serious safety risks on the roadways and in the workplace, particularly to workers in safety-sensitive positions, the Illinois-based association said in a press release.

NSC has called on employers to restrict the use of cannabis among workers in safety-sensitive positions, regardless of whether it is permissible to use by state law.

Even if laws permit cannabis use, impairment-free workplace policies are encouraged, particularly for occupations where lives are at stake, such as transportation, manufacturing, construction and warehouse work, said the NSC statement.

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Focus on work safety

Impaired workers pose a safety risk to their colleagues and others with whom they may come into contact, said the NSC.

The bill is unlikely to pass the U.S. Senate, according to the NSC. However, the group urged Congress to hold hearings next year to explore the safety impacts of removing marijuana from schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act and move forward legislation to expand research on marijuana .

One benefit in the MORE Act includes the removal of punitive actions for drug violations, the NSC stated. This action, for example, could clear the way for more widespread access to treatment.

The council also called for an evidence-based standard for detecting cannabis impairment in driving and other safety-sensitive operations.