Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug tests, failing drug tests
A committee headed by the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has proposed that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) take over all sports drug testing as an independent agency, in an attempt to bring credibility to drug testing in athletics. It would be a huge undertaking for the WADA, but having an independent organization conduct drug-screening tests could improve fairness when it comes to Olympic drug testing.
WADA does not currently conduct its own drug tests; rather, it works with contracted laboratories to monitor samples. It is not currently expected that this format would change by adding more responsibility to WADA’s plate.
This proposal comes on the heels of allegations that some countries covered up athletes’ use of performance-enhancing drugs during recent years’ Olympics, particularly in the track and field events.
WADA and IOC officials are expected to discuss this proposal further at a meeting on Nov. 17. WADA President and IOC VP Craig Reedie refused to comment or speculate as to the outcome of the proposal, should WADA decide to fully take over drug testing.
WADA is not expected to provide an answer by the November meeting, as the Canadian agency is expected to conduct a study and report on the potential results of independent drug testing for sports federations over an unspecified time period.
The IOC’s proposal would give WADA control over the testing, but disciplinary action for those who use performance-enhancing drugs would remain with the sports federations.
Posted in drug screening, small business
California Gov. Jerry Brown has officially signed legislation regulating the growth, sale and use of medical marijuana in the state. Gov. Brown signed the Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act on Oct. 9.
The Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act would require that individuals and businesses that participate in the industry maintain a license for indoor or outdoor cultivation, distribution, transportation and more, and set up guidelines for individuals who want to grow their own medicinal plants. The Act also requires state agencies to regulate how medical marijuana is grown, packaged, and advertised.
Local governments will also have the ability to tax businesses that sell the drug, or outright ban drug-related businesses, and the University of California has been charged with studying and recommending penalties for those who drive under the influence of the substance.
“This package proves that, for the first time, Californians can work collaboratively to develop and produce comprehensive medical marijuana regulation,” said David Bejarano, President of the California Police Chiefs Association.
Voters will have the ability to vote to legalize recreational cannabis in November 2016, and beginning to create regulations is a step in the right direction for those who might have opposed the legality of the drug.
“Today, the Wild West era of medical cannabis came to an end, and a new era of responsible regulation has begun,” said Jim Araby, United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Executive Director.
California is expected to begin licensing medicinal suppliers in 2018.
Posted in drug screening, drug tests, failing drug tests, hair drug test, hair drug tests, pre-employment background screening
A new study from Scientific Reports may have an effect on what kind of drug tests employers choose to use when screening potential employees for marijuana.
The study, entitled “Finding cannabinoids in hair does not prove cannabis consumption,” shows that three cannabinoids — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A) — can be found in hair samples even if the samples came from a person who had never used the drug.
“Our studies show that all three cannabinoids can be present in hair of non-consuming individuals because of transfer through cannabis consumers, via their hands, their sebum/sweat, or cannabis smoke,” wrote the authors in the abstract.
In fact, according to the study, the THC-COOH cannabinoid (which is created in the body and can be transferred to other individuals via sweat/sebum on the hands or other parts of the body) can remain on hair follicles for up to 11 weeks after contamination, which could end up resulting in false-positive drug tests. THC itself can be found in marijuana smoke, which can lead to risk of “external contamination.”
Because marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, despite it becoming legalized in some states, it is still legal for many employers to conduct drug tests for the drug, and even take adverse action against individuals who test positive.
At this time, urine and blood tests are much less likely to turn up “false positives” for marijuana usage, and employers may consider utilizing these drug-testing methods when conducting pre-employment or on-the-job screening.
Contact Mind Your Business to keep up to date on your rights as an employer when dealing with the murky waters of drug-testing laws.
Posted in drug screening, drug tests, employee drug screening, pre-employment drug tests
California voters’ petition to legalize marijuana has been approved by the state and advocates are now seeking hundreds of thousands of registered voters’ signatures in order for the controversial measure to appear on the November 2016 ballot.
The petition’s language was approved by Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State.
If the measure passes, it would legalize marijuana statewide for recreational, medical and dietary use, and provide reasonable taxation accordingly. Discrimination against individuals who use the drug would become illegal. Additionally, it would become illegal for employers to conduct marijuana-specific drug tests during the hiring process or at any time during employment unless an occupation is deemed “safety sensitive.”
If the petition gains enough signatures to make it onto the ballot for November 2016’s election — and it needs almost 366,000 signatures by mid-March in order to do so — it is expected that the legalization of the drug could raise state tax revenue hundreds of millions of dollars per year and decrease state expenses due to drug-related arrests.
To read the Marijuana Legalization Initiative Statute in its entirety, click here.
To learn more about drug testing and how marijuana legalization can affect your business, contact Mind Your Business.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug testing policy, employment, pre-employment background checks, pre-employment background screening
Whether you’re hiring a new CEO, middle manager or an entry-level employee, smart employers take the time to drug test job applicants. There are several reasons to do so: an employee with a substance abuse problem can cost an employer a lot of money, are more likely to cause accidents in the workplace, and can be an indicator of other problems to come.
First, those with substance abuse problems are more likely to cause accidents. Whether your business operates a warehouse or factory, or functions primarily in an office setting, employees that utilize illegal drugs are more likely to put their co-workers, themselves and the business at risk due to potential injuries or poor judgment calls.
Second, employers should drug test job applicants because a substance abuse problem can be a sign of things to come. The employee may be more prone to lie, be unreliable or even commit crimes — such as theft — against the company or other employees.
Finally, and this is the big one, an employee that uses drugs is a big liability to a company, and can cost a business a lot of money. As already mentioned, accidents in the workplace may result in the company being sued by employees, and worker’s compensation will need to be paid out for any injured employee. A loss in employee productivity due to injury or distraction on the job can cause losses in company revenue as well.
In addition, some states or regions have laws about what adverse action employers can and cannot take when it comes to discovering an employee has a drug addiction. Some states allow employers to impose zero-tolerance drug policies, while others mandate that employers must provide reasonable attempts to enroll the employee in rehabilitation and/or detox programs, which are often funded by the employer.
Even if an employer does have the right to terminate an employee’s position for being under the influence, the company wastes money by staying in a loop of hiring and firing employees for the same position. In order to avoid these types of problems, it’s best to drug test job applicants before an unconditional offer is extended.
To learn how to create or implement a drug testing policy for your business, contact Mind Your Business to get started.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug testing policy, prescription drugs
In a National Safety Council press release, the organization called for employers to create workplace drug policies in order to address the increased use of prescription painkillers. The Council studied court cases and research that shows that, by addressing the painkiller problem in advance, employers can reduce worker’s compensation claims and costs, as well as costs associated with addiction and treatment.
Many workers who find themselves addicted to opioid painkillers were originally injured while at work, and can find themselves more likely to overdose or become injured again while taking the drugs. Because of problems such as these, worker’s compensation insurance is often required to cover treatment for painkiller addiction, detoxification programs and death benefits should the employee overdose or become involved in a fatal accident while at work.
The study showed that worker’s comp claims for addicted employees can be up to 900 percent higher than for workers that do not utilize pain pills.
“Employers have a moral and legal responsibility to protect their employees. Addressing the use and abuse of prescription painkillers is as important as identifying drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace,” said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman.
The NSC’s recommendations to employers include policies for training supervisors in identifying employees who may be impaired due to prescription painkillers, informing employees about the risks associated with taking these medications, and expanding drug testing to include the opioids commonly found in pain pills.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug testing policy, employee drug screening, Federal law
Since Oregon’s recreational marijuana legalization laws went into effect at the beginning of July, many state employers have begun releasing memos re-stating their drug policies and reminding employees that nothing is likely to change in those policies.
Employers are still allowed to conduct drug tests, and ensure their employees show up for work sober, though some acknowledge that what an employee does on his or her own time is their own business.
“If an employee wants to smoke a joint at home at night with their dinner, okay, as long as they don’t come to work impaired,” said Anna Kanwit, Portland’s human resources director.
However, some job positions do not have that flexibility. Under Oregon and federal laws, some positions are prohibited from using medicinal or recreational marijuana under any circumstances. Those who were previously prohibited from using marijuana — including law enforcement officers, firefighters and commercial drivers — must still eschew legal marijuana in order to keep their jobs.
Oregon’s largest transit agency, TriMet, issued a statement to employees that said, “[O]ur policy still prohibits the consumption of marijuana by any employee at any time for any purpose.” Employees of TriMet include railway conductors, mechanics and maintenance crews, bus drivers and other transportation positions where employee actions can affect public safety.
Even if one’s position doesn’t fall under that prohibition umbrella, that doesn’t mean that drug usage will be tolerated, even if it’s legal. Portland’s school district maintains its zero-tolerance drug policies for all on-campus or school-related events, as well as field trips. Many other schools have similar drug-free district policies.
Despite the recreational legality, if an employee shows up for work high and fails a drug test, an employer may still enact disciplinary measures.
Oregon is an at-will employment state. All marijuana usage, including medicinal, is still illegal under federal law.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing policy, employee drug screening, failing drug tests
In a 6-0 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that employers may lawfully terminate employees that fail drug tests due to marijuana usage, even if the drug is only used outside of working hours. The Court determined that zero-tolerance policies trump the legal usage of medical marijuana within the state.
The case was brought before the Court by Brandon Coats, who was fired from Dish Network in 2010 after failing a drug test due to medical marijuana usage. Coats had a medical marijuana card, and used the drug after he was in a car accident that left him a quadriplegic.
While the ruling is a disappointment for those who use medical marijuana legally in Colorado, the Court’s decision provides some much-needed clarity to employers. This ruling will allow employers to craft drug policies without the fear of being sued if they terminate a job due to a failed drug test. Employers are still allowed to determine whether they want or require a drug-free work zone, and can decide for themselves whether to instate zero-tolerance policies. (Some Colorado employers have eliminated THC from the list of drugs screened for during the pre-employment process.)
Coats and his attorneys have no current plans to take this case to a higher court. Medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and the U.S. Supreme Court would not be likely to side with employees who utilize marijuana when off the clock.
“You need the Colorado Supreme Court to stand up for its own laws,” said Michael Evans, Coats’ attorney. “The U.S. Supreme Court is not going to do that.”
Posted in drug and alcohol testing, drug screening, drug testing policy, FAA, Federal Aviation Administration
Allegiant Air, a budget airline that competes with Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue, is expected to pay the Federal Aviation Administration fines of more than $260,000 for failing to include all of its employees in a random drug and alcohol testing pool, per FAA requirements.
According to the FAA, 25 of Allegiant Air’s employees were not included in random screening pools, including employees whose jobs required on-the-job safety sensitivity, such as pilots, air traffic controllers, security workers and flight attendants.
A statement on the FAA’s website said that 11 of those 25 employees performed their normal job functions even though they hadn’t been included in the drug testing pool.
In addition, one employee had tested positive on a previous drug and alcohol test, and proper protocols were not followed regarding follow-up drug tests.
The FAA and the Department of Transportation have guidelines in place regarding airline staff drug testing, including testing regulations for those who hold safety-specific positions. The DoT requires that, if an airline employee tests positive for drugs or alcohol, he or she must be monitored during follow-up drug tests. The employee in question was allowed to take the follow-up test unsupervised.
“The safety of our passengers and crew is always our number one priority at Allegiant,” said Eric Gust, Allegiant’s Vice President of Safety and Security. “We are currently reviewing all of the records and events associated with the FAA allegation. However, our initial assessment is that the safety of our operation was not compromised.”
The FAA is expected to meet with Allegiant Air representatives again in the coming weeks.
photo credit: N872GA via photopin (license)
Posted in background checks, drug screening, drug testing
The FBI has a fingerprint database for conducting federal criminal background checks, and plenty of organizations and employers require their employees and volunteers to be fingerprinted as a way to ensure the workers do not have criminal records. But can fingerprint background checks be used for anything besides criminal records? A new study shows they can.
Researchers at the University of Surrey in the U.K., along with researchers from other U.K. and Netherlands universities, have just found another reason to collect fingerprints: drug tests. A new study shows fingerprints are able to provide indicators that an individual has recently used cocaine, by using a mass spectrometer to detect atom-level benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine excreted in sweat.
“When someone has taken cocaine, they excrete traces of benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine as they metabolize the drug, and these chemical indicators are present in fingerprint residue,” said Dr. Melanie Bailey, the lead author of the study.
The samples that the researchers tested were from drug-treatment participants in the U.K., and both fingerprint and saliva samples were taken to compare the results.
Potentially being able to conduct drug tests through fingerprints would be extremely beneficial to employers: there would be far less risk of individuals faking drug tests by utilizing bodily fluids other than their own, as an individual’s fingerprint stores both the test results and the person’s identity; and the collection process would be easier, more sanitary, and less invasive, since urine or blood would not need collection.
In addition, law enforcement could use miniature spectrometers in traffic stops in which driving under the influence is suspected.
However, that technology is not yet available to the public, and remains very expensive for the time being. The researchers expect that portable and affordable spectrometers will be available within the next 10 years.
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