Companies need to update or review their drug policies.
That was the message of Renee Schofield, CEO of The Safety Specialists, who spoke at the Kenai/Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday at the Kenai Visitor Center.
“If you don’t have one, you need to get one,” said Schofield, whose company provides businesses with safety solutions, training and a variety of testing. “If you haven’t looked at it and haven’t reviewed it with your employees, you need to do that soon. And by soon, I mean this afternoon.”
Some jobs, including those within the Department of Transportation, will continue to have a zero tolerance policy toward marijuana. However, many companies will have a choice whether their employees are marijuana-free come Feb. 24.
Schofield said that one issue employers might face is edible marijuana in the work place. She said that without a clear drug policy, employees could consume food that was laced with cannabis oils without repercussions.
“Most of us don’t think about the edible side of it, and how that’s going to affect us,” Schofield said. “We all think about the smoke, rolling joints and all of that, but what’s going to affect you now is that it’s going to be in oil, so it will be topical.”
She said that policies prohibiting employees from being “under the influence” would be particularly troublesome.
“We all understand that we don’t drink at work, but we haven’t established the regulation to what is under the influence with marijuana,” Schofield said. “What is the cutoff? 0.02, 0.04, 0.08 on alcohol. We don’t have that for pot.”
Schofield said that because many regulations and laws regarding marijuana haven’t been established yet, many people are unsure about what to expect with marijuana being legalized.
“The problem is not that we’ve legalized, it that’s we don’t have any guidelines,” Schofield said.
Schofield said that with solid policies, employers should feel confident that they have the legal authority to uphold them.
“To date, there has not been a situation where an employer has failed as long as they’ve had a rock-solid policy. This is why it’s so important.”
Schofield said that having policies is important not only for employers, but for the wellbeing of employees and other people in the community.
“The goal for all of us is to make sure people stay safe, people stay healthy and that we continue to do the jobs we do in our communities,” Schofield said
Reach Ian Foley at firstname.lastname@example.org.