On December 15, 2016, a New Jersey Judge of Workers’ Compensation issued a decision requiring an employee’s medical marijuana expenses to be reimbursed by his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. As one of the first decisions in the country holding medical marijuana costs to be compensable by a workers’ compensation insurer, the case gathered substantial national attention in the popular media. It made New Jersey the fourth state, along with Maine, Minnesota and New Mexico, in which a workers’ compensation insurer has been ordered to pay for medical marijuana for an injured worker.
On May 12, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor released amended regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) pertaining to the reporting and tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. Employers are required to “establish a reasonable procedure for employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses promptly and accurately.”
There is bad news for employers who strive for drug free workplaces. The annual Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index (DTI) shows that the positive drug test rates for almost 6,600,000 urine drug tests in the U.S. workforce increased by 9.3 % in 2014 compared to 2013. The year 2013 was the first year in ten years in which the overall positive rate for urine drug tests increased. Prior to 2013, positive results went down nearly every year for over 24 years.
The prescribing of opioid painkillers is becoming more common – and more dangerous – so increased awareness is necessary, particularly in the workplace. By being aware of the problems and committed to preventing it, companies can play a decisive role in the well-being of New Jersey’s citizens.
Driving is a complex task that requires continuous information processing and coordinated responses to ever-changing traffic while operating a multi-ton vehicle on public roads. Clearly, drugs that alter a driver’s normal brain functioning can create an extremely hazardous situation. Drugged driving has become a national threat that rivals the dangers caused by the better-recognized problem of drunk driving. The massive national response to drunk driving - including more than 1.5 million arrests a year for DUI - has driven those numbers down over the past decade. But the nation’s 16 million current users of illegal drugs have faced no similar effort as they continue to drive under the influence of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and opiates.
The national trend toward liberalization of marijuana laws continues. As of this writing, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow the sale, purchase and use of marijuana for medical purposes, while four states – Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado – and the District of Columbia permit the sale and consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes. Yet this apparent sea-change in attitudes toward marijuana use has not yet impacted employers’ ability to maintain drug-free workplaces. Virtually every state court that has addressed the issue has followed the lead of California Supreme Court, which held, in a case called Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc., that employers are not required to accommodate employees who use medical marijuana, and that employees may lawfully be terminated for testing positive for medical marijuana in a workplace drug test.
Addressing chronic drug addiction among unemployed and economically disadvantaged adults is a daunting challenge. Employment is critical in addressing the poverty and economic disadvantage; however, controlled research suggests that employment could play a valuable role in treating drug addiction as well. Contrary to common conceptions, employment alone may not have robust effects on drug use.
It’s impossible to ignore the dark cloud of prescription drug and heroin that has loomed over our state for the last few years. 2013 saw a staggering number of opioid overdose deaths across our state. When all was said and done, two families lost a loved one to this devastating epidemic everyday. In 2014, the Narcan program was launched, which put the lifesaving overdose reversal medication in the hands of law enforcement and first responders, saving hundreds of lives. Now, in 2015, our lawmakers and law enforcement officials are working to establish vital partnerships with treatment facilities to get those who are resuscitated by Narcan the help they need to finally end their addiction.”
In recent years, the percentage of Americans taking prescription drugs has increased dramatically. During the most recent period, from 2007 to 2010, about 48 percent of people said they were taking a prescription medication, and one in ten are estimated to take five or more prescription medications at the same time, which significantly increases the likelihood of adverse interactions between the medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control report titled “Health, United States, 2013.”
With both Washington State and Colorado now legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, businesses throughout the country are beginning to ask many questions as to how this change may impact the workforce.
Mandatory Follow-Up Alcohol Testing Violates Rights of Alcoholic Employees, New Jersey Appeals Court Concludes
A recent decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit provides insight into the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as to employees misusing prescription drugs in the workplace.
For this edition of the quarterly Drugs Don’t Work newsletter, I’m pleased to report some good news: Americans in the workplace are testing positive less to marijuana and cocaine, according to a new study just published by Quest Diagnostics, Inc. Unfortunately, with good news often comes bad news: positive tests for amphetamines and other prescription drugs are on the rise.
Last November, voters in Colorado and Washington voted, by a slim margin, to legalize the use of marijuana for all individuals over the age of 21. Colorado’s new law, which expressly suggested that the state should regulate the use and sale of marijuana like alcohol, was foreseeable, as Colorado in 2000 adopted a medical marijuana law that was expanded to offer marijuana to individuals with a generous array of health concerns.
Nearly three years after it was passed, and following numerous false starts, the "New Jersey Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act" finally became a reality with the opening of New Jersey's first medical marijuana dispensary -- the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair -- on December 6, 2012. It is now timely to ask the question: What impact will New Jersey's Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) have on employer efforts to create and maintain drug-free workplaces?
According to the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, the abuse of prescription drugs has soared in recent years, coming in second only to marijuana use as the nation’s most commonly abused illegal drug.
K2 or “spice” are terms used to describe a variety of products made of dried, shredded plant material laced with synthetic compounds.
WASHINGTON – More than 90 individuals were arrested and more than five million packets of finished designer synthetic drugs were seized in the first-ever nationwide law enforcement action against the synthetic designer drug industry responsible for the production and sale of synthetic drugs that are often marketed as bath salts, Spice, incense, or plant food.
To achieve the goal of a drug- and alcohol-free transportation environment, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) has adopted regulations (the “DOT Regulations”) requiring certain commercial motor vehicle operators to be tested for alcohol and drugs.
Last year, Drugs Don’t Work New Jersey undertook a survey of in-state employers, to gauge their drug-free workplace policies and practices.
As a follow up to a study PDFNJ commissioned in 2008, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind recently completed a telephone survey of 301 randomly selected employers in NJ, including an oversampling of businesses with over 100 employees.
No matter how hard we work at substance abuse prevention, education, and treatment, the nature of addiction seems to ensure that it will be a long time before the United States can conclude that it has eliminated the scourge, much as it once eliminated polio.
One of the more difficult issues for employers dealing with drug use in the workplace is distinguishing between employees “currently engaged” in the illegal use of drugs and those who are no longer so engaging.
New Jersey Drug Court Program Economic Impact
Employer Drug Testing Policies:Legal Drugs are Different
According to data recently released by the Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp), marijuana is still the drug most often detected by employment drug tests.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) final rule amending certain drug testing procedures goes into effect October 1, and regulated employers are moving to update their written testing plans and practices to reflect the changes.
Sometimes a court decision can be instructive not because of the law it promulgates, but because of the object lesson it provides. Such a case is the Matter of Michael Brown, an unpublished decision recently decided by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.
A new “Drug Testing Index Special Report” issued by laboratory giant Quest Diagnostics suggests that the abuse of illegal amphetamines and cocaine have continued to decline among United States workers, although it appears that urine drug tests fail to detect a fair number of those who abuse these drugs.