August 01, 2017

Clearing the Smoke: Workplace Safety Issues Clouded by Medical Marijuana

Phillip B. Russell

Reprinted with permission from Under Construction newsletter, Summer 2017 (19:1), at 1–3. ©2017 by the American Bar Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

Before we try to clear the smoke on the issue of medical marijuana, let’s put the subject in its proper context. Regardless of the strength of the arguments in favor of or against medical marijuana usage, its use in the workplace is primarily a safety issue. Construction sites are inherently hazardous. In 2015, of 4,379 private industry fatalities, 937 (21.4%) were in construction.1 Prudent construction employers now have a new safety threat: the expanding use of medical marijuana and the expanding cultural expectation that employees should be allowed to light up any time because of health issues.

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