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Changing Drug Laws Creating More Gray Areas for Many Companies

May 1, 2017

RCS Influencer Jennifer Stone says that employers need to err on the side of caution and safety and consider zero-tolerance policies.

At Nations Roof, our policies haven't changed because of states’ legalizing the use of recreational and/or medicinal marijuana. We have a zero-tolerance policy and the safety of our employees doesn't change because recreational drug use is accepted by the state. Due to the high risk of falls in our industry, we cannot have any type of impairment. Period.

Nations Roof is a large, national company and we have a very strict stance on this issue. We follow federal laws and under federal law marijuana is still illegal. It has definitely created some challenges in finding qualified workers. I’ve had some really qualified candidates who are honest and disclose that they use medical marijuana to treat certain conditions. They also make it clear that they are not going to change or stop and we’ve had to pass on hiring that person.

The tables may start turning where more employers will be more tolerant of it in those situations but with safety being so important, I don’t see it happening in our industry. It’s dangerous enough working above grade, you need to be sure that the first person heading to the roof to secure the ladder doesn’t make a mistake. Mistakes lead to severe injury and in many cases death.

There are definitely gray areas that exist with drug policies in many ways. For instance, with the new OSHA policy, drug testing after an accident no longer can happen without reasonable suspicion that alcohol or drugs were involved. How do you define reasonable suspicion? Do you need to smell alcohol? See beer cans? Look for bloodshot eyes?

It’s because of reasons like this that Nations Roof takes an across-the-board, strict stance of zero tolerance.  Our employees are aware of the policy and sign a paper that they understand the consequences. If someone chooses to legally smoke marijuana on a weekend, they are choosing to use a drug that stays in their system with full knowledge that if they are tested and found to be positive, they are terminated.

Then there is the whole issue of legal prescription opioids. The laws are not always clear on that so it’s important for employers to err on the side of caution. Having a zero-tolerance policy in place helps ensure that no one is being put at risk on the job.

Jennifer Stone is president of Nations Roof, Pacific Northwest. See her full bio here.



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