Federal marijuana legislation prompts safety concerns

A group of industry associations, medical groups and safety organizations are urging the U.S. House of Representatives to hold hearings about potential workplace safety impacts if marijuana is federally decriminalized.

The National Safety Council and 21 other groups sent a letter to the House on Wednesday over concerns that the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, also known as the MORE Act, will negatively affect the health and safety of workers if passed.

The bill, H.R. 3884, which was introduced in July 2019 by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminate criminal penalties for individuals who manufacture, distribute or possess marijuana.

The groups argued in their letter that legalizing marijuana could have considerable impact on transportation and workplace standards since there is no evidence-based standard yet available for detecting marijuana impairment in drivers or workers in safety-sensitive positions. The drug is known to impair psychomotor skills and negatively impact attention and decision-making, the NSC said in a statement Thursday.

The letter also questioned whether the U.S. Department of Transportation could continue to mandate drug testing for marijuana for safety-sensitive transportation positions if marijuana is removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

“Employers have an obligation to maintain safe workplaces, and without a better understanding of the impact on workplace safety, these changes will affect the safety of workers, their co-workers and the general public,” Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said in a statement Thursday. “We implore members of the House to explore the workplace safety effects of the MORE Act. This includes developing an evidence-based standard for detecting marijuana impairment.”

The MORE Act is currently in the Committee of the Judiciary.

This article was first published in Business Insurance.

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