Proposition 19 Is No Threat To Workplace Safety

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director September 12, 2010

    Redding Record Searchlight

    September 12, 2010

    by Dale Gieringer (Dale Gieringer is director of California NORML)

    Opponents of marijuana legalization complain that Proposition 19 could endanger workplace safety. Employers, such as Ed Rullman of the Best Western Hilltop Inn in his Aug. 15 Op-Ed, object that Proposition 19 has a clause protecting employees against discrimination for private, adult use of marijuana. However, this is qualified by an important provision protecting employers’ right “to address consumption that actually impairs job performance.”

    Why then should Proposition 19 be a problem for employers? Because they want to test employees for behavior that doesn’t affect job performance by using the inherently flawed and inaccurate technology of urine testing.

    Contrary to popular misconception, urine tests don’t measure the active presence of marijuana in the system, but rather non-active chemical by-products that linger for days or weeks after any impairing effects have faded. Urine testing routinely flags the most harmless, weekend use of marijuana, while completely ignoring the No. 1 cause of drug abuse, alcohol.

    Urine testing is therefore a highly unreliable indicator of impairment or job fitness. In fact, it is perfectly possible to be high as a kite and still pass a urine test with flying colors because marijuana doesn’t show up in the urine until hours after smoking. Such problems can be avoided by other, more accurate screening methods, such as blood tests, which detect the active presence of drugs in the system, or the field sobriety checks used by law enforcement in DUI stops.

    But aren’t urine tests still helpful in protecting workplace safety? Scientific evidence for this is conspicuously lacking. Urine testing has never undergone the kind of rigorous FDA “safety and efficacy” studies that are required for other medical devices and drugs.

    Numerous studies have found that subjects who test positive for marijuana are no more accident-prone, and in some instances even safer, than those who don’t.

    A recent expert review by the Canadian Center for Addictions Research recommended against use of drug urinalysis, concluding that “urinalysis has not been shown to have a meaningful impact on job injury/accident rates.”

    A study of high-tech companies found that drug testing was associated with reduced productivity, apparently because it undermines worker morale and trust. Drug urinalysis may thus be an indicator of sloppy management by large corporations who exercise poor oversight over workers.

    Until recent years, it would have been laughable to suppose that American workers should be forced to submit urine samples to prove their job worthiness. The U.S. is alone among developed countries in regarding urine testing as a routine practice. In the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available to all adults, drug testing is hardly used, yet workplace safety is substantially better than in the U.S.

    The bottom line is that marijuana residues in urine pose no risk to workplace safety. In many cases, it is even preferable to let employees use marijuana for medical purposes at home so as to help avoid pain and other problems that can impair their performance.

    Of course, there may exist situations where some kind of drug testing is useful in protecting workplace safety. If so, Proposition 19 specifically permits it. In no case would Proposition 19 override existing federal drug testing rules, anymore than did Proposition 215.

    In general, however, Proposition 19 would benefit countless workers — pot users and non-users alike — by sparing them the degrading indignity of submitting to intrusive, misleading urine tests that have no bearing on job fitness.

    47 responses to “Proposition 19 Is No Threat To Workplace Safety”

    1. Geralyn says:

      Proposition 19 Is No Threat To Workplace Safety…your joking right. There are more front abuses going on the in the prescription drug use then natural holistic uses.

      I dont of any one as of yet to OD on this natural plant or commit suicide or hold up a bank with it nor has there been any documented causation to loosing a limb at work.

      I object totally in fact politician should considerate on the drug testing for Welfare Checks rather then causing a distraction of this sort

    2. generaljake says:

      if prop 19 dont pass ima goin to be one sad SOB

    3. How many times have i said before that Drug Testing Kits were invented by Corporations such as the Drug/ Alcohol / Tobacco Companies long ago to deter you from Marijuana use ?!!Maijuana test positive & their deadly drugs test negative . Walmart says it will fire any employee that test positive in a drug test for
      ” safety reasons ” .

      Meanwhile……..Walmart sells legal drugs and Drug Corporations ( example ; Wyeth , Pfisner , King pharmaceuticals ) sponsor ” Drug Free America “.

      Prescription drugs , pharmaceuticals , over the counter drugs are all sold by Walmart .

    4. brandon semmel says:

      i am on probation for possieon and i get drug tested its iggnorant this is so dumb it illegal. it never harmed me, or any one. i was a casual smoker. like most hardworking americans i have a job and a house, i dont break laws, buy by smoking and not drinking bc i know that is worse for me i am labled a “crimnal”

    5. ” The Redding Searchlight ,Times Standard , Los Angeles Times , San Francisco Chronicle ” , newspapers out of California are all Pro – Marijuana bringing you the truth . If they were to lie people would not read or buy their newspapers .

      Many Christian groups & organizations will tell you lies about Marijuana but what they are doing is riding in the front seat with THE GREAT SATAN called the DEVIL himself …………

      ….to lie and use deception to fool & trick you .

      Methodists , Catholics , Baptists , Jehovah Witness & all the other names they have make these Churches………organizations . They are ; business organizations & will tell you many lies about Marijuana because they too are given huge sums of money by Corporations – Pharmacuticals .They are the
      ” false religions ” Jesus Christ himself told us about
      would appear in
      ” the last days ” .

    6. Christian says:

      I agree whole heartedly that other employees should still be protected, but the underlying factor in the matter is the inacurate test’s that are used. Not to mention the fact that employers have a wide range of test kit’s to choose from. Which test kit is more accurate than which. Unified accepted test should be administered to create redundantcy.

    7. Burdie says:


      ACLU Briefing Paper Number 5
      Are drug tests reliable?
      No. The drug screens used by most companies are not reliable. These tests yield false positive results at least 10 percent, and possibly as much as 30 percent, of the time. Experts concede that the tests are unreliable. At a recent conference, 120 forensic scientists, including some who worked for manufacturers of drug tests, were asked, “Is there anybody who would submit urine for drug testing if his career, reputation, freedom or livelihood depended on it?” Not a single hand was raised. Although more accurate tests are available, they are expensive and infrequently used. And even the more accurate tests can yield inaccurate results due to laboratory error. A survey by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, a government agency, found that 20 percent of the labs surveyed mistakenly reported the presence of illegal drugs in drug-free urine samples. Unreliability also stems from the tendency of drug screens to confuse similar chemical compounds. For example, codeine and Vicks Formula 44-M have been known to produce positive results for heroin, Advil for marijuana, and Nyquil for amphetamines.

      “Americans have traditionally believed that general searches of innocent people are unfair.”

      Several years ago, the number of drug tests on employees 50 million. Each one of those tests costs a lot of money, wasted. They provide a service that is not even reliable while violating Americans’ 4th amendment right to privacy of person.

      This sort of policy doesn’t come about naturally or out of necessity, it comes about because degenerates manipulate public policy (through lobbying and kickbacks) to force customers through the doors of drug testing centers. Greed drives people to sick money making schemes

    8. fivi says:

      NORML, please tell us honestly… Is there REALLY any chance this could actually possibly pass? I mean really, it’s been illegal for generations, and if it passes it would have enormous consequences for the entire western hemisphere… mostly good consequences, but enormous none the less. And Americans are generally afraid of change. So really, is there honestly any chance at all prop 19 can pass? Are we all holding our breath in vain?

      [Editor’s note: Currently, the polling favors an affirmative outcome. The next 50 days or so are crucial!]

    9. Nic says:

      Ed Rullman of the Best Western Hilltop Inn is probably a drunk, why else would he publish his name on such an un-orthodox subject.

      A YES Vote on Proposition 19 will send a clear message to all those buggars on capitol hill.

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