Senator Bucco: Delays in workplace cannabis rules dangerous, unacceptable
NEW JERSEY – Senator Anthony M. Bucco said the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s (CRC) failure to issue critical rules that employers need to keep workplaces safe following the start of legal recreational cannabis sales in New Jersey is dangerous and unacceptable.
“Now that cannabis is being sold legally in New Jersey, it’s much more likely that employees will show up to work impaired or with traces of the drug in their system,” said Bucco (R-25). “That could be extremely dangerous at a construction site, in a hospital, or in the airline industry where any level of impairment could result in serious accidents. Even though the start of recreational pot sales was delayed by months, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission still hasn’t found the time to issue the rules for the drug recognition experts that employers are required to have to determine if employees are high while they’re working. This continued inaction is an unacceptable failure that hopefully won’t result in tragedy.”
Unlike breath and blood tests that can tell a person’s level of impairment due to alcohol consumption, there is no similar test for cannabis use. Existing tests can tell that a person has used cannabis within days or weeks, but not if they are currently impaired or the level of impairment, Bucco said.
To account for that, employers who are trying to maintain a drug-free workplace are required to utilize drug recognition experts who are trained to identify the signs of cannabis impairment among workers, Bucco said.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s failure to issue the rules and standards for drug recognition experts as required has prevented the training of such experts pursuant to the provisions of New Jersey’s recreational cannabis law and, as a result, none are available for employers to hire, Bucco said.
“It’s almost beyond belief that the CRC and the Murphy administration would allow recreational pot sales to begin before drug recognition experts could be trained and hired to keep workplaces safe,” Bucco said. “Employers have been put in an impossible position where they have workplaces that need to be protected but they can’t comply with the law due to government inaction. They’re being left without direction to keep their workplaces safe while they’re waiting for the CRC to do its job, which could lead to messy legal fights if they take action against employees who are suspected of working while impaired. Whatever the holdup is, Governor Murphy needs to get involved to ensure this gets this done before someone is hurt or killed.”