While the Constitutional Court may have ruled that the use of marijuana, in private, by an adult was legal, the drug still occupies a legal grey area until certain laws – namely the Drugs Act – are amended.

For those adults that enjoy a bit of a toke now and then, there are surely questions about what happens if your employer insists on you taking a drug test?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, which states an employee is not permitted to enter the workplace under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is still very much in effect and likely won’t be changed.

The problem with marijuana is that the one of its chemicals – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – is fat soluble and remains in the body for much longer than something like alcohol. Drug tests which require you submit a urine sample then, will show that you have used marijuana but don’t necessarily tell you when that was.

For recreational users then, a urine test could show you use marijuana but may not be under the influence during work hours.

This means employers need to find a way to test for marijuana use at work to determine whether an employee is under the influence. Managing director at ALCO-Safe, Rhys Evans, has advice for business owners.

“For workplace purposes the urine test is no longer recommended,” says Evans.

“Saliva tests are a more effective option, since they test for the primary THC compound itself and therefore have much shorter detection windows. When the aim is to confirm that an employee is currently under the influence of cannabis, the saliva test is a better option and is more in line with current legislation,” the MD explains.

Business owners must draw up comprehensive substance abuse policies that fall in line with legislation and the Occupational Health and Safety Act

“It is important for policies to explicitly state that it is against company regulations and the law for a person to enter the workplace under the influence of intoxicating substances, including alcohol and cannabis,” says Evans.

“It also needs to be defined that persons may not consume these intoxicating substances while in the workplace, as well as the consequences should these policies not be adhered to,” he adds.

Companies should also engage with unions and employee representatives to make sure the policies developed are fair.

As an employee the logic should be evident – don’t abuse drugs or alcohol while on the job, whether it’s 4:20 or not.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]