Prepare to Tackle Marijuana Safety Issues

Legalization of marijuana creates new safety challenges

Already in 10 states and the District of Columbia, it is fully legal to use marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. As more legislation is introduced elsewhere across America and more laws are changed, workplace safety managers need to understand how the legalization of marijuana is creating new challenges.

Will you need to update or enact new drug policies? What about testing? One way to get answers to these types of questions is to attend a National Safety Council symposium, “Cannabis: It’s Complicated.” The symposium is June 25-26 at NSC headquarters in Itasca, IL.

Attendees will get information and free resources to deal with the consequences of marijuana use and cannabis-related products. The list of speakers reads like Who’s Who of experts in the field, headed by the likes of Dr. Tory Spindle, a postdoctoral research fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Registration is now open. Space is limited.

Unable to attend? Well, you still can take steps to address impairment and reduce incidents involving your employees and their family members. Get free transportation safety training from Our Driving Concern. The training is designed for you to take back to your company and use with your employees.

  • Participants receive copies of the curriculum
  • The Council of Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) offers four hours of continuing education credit to officers

In 2017, there were 990 drug-related crashes across the state, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. That’s nearly three crashes every day. The effects of drugs on driving can differ, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Some examples:

  • Marijuana: can slow reaction time, impair judgment of time and distance, and decrease coordination
  • Cocaine or methamphetamine: can lead to aggressive or reckless driving
  • Prescription medications, including opioids: can cause drowsiness, dizziness and impair thinking and judgment

In Oklahoma, medicinal use of marijuana is allowed. Recreational use remains prohibited and, yet, drugged driving incidents are on the rise, both locally and across the nation. From 2007 to 2013, there was a 48% increase in weekend nighttime drivers who tested positive for marijuana, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Impaired driving affects many more than those involved in drunk or drugged driving crashes. Victims include mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers. In addition, misuse of alcohol and other substances increases the risk of injuries in the workplace. The trickle-down effect is loss of production.

So, as marijuana restrictions are loosened, your transportation safety efforts are more important now than ever. What’s learned at work often is carried home. Let’s keep each other safe.

– Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager at the National Safety Council