Cannabis: It's Complicated - National Safety Council
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Cannabis can have a major impact on the safety of your workers, and cannabis legalization is creating new challenges. According to a survey by, more than one in five respondents said they use marijuana recreationally at work during work hours; nearly 5% admitted to daily use, and more than 13% use it more than once a month.

The following are some resources to help you learn how cannabis can affect employees’ ability to work, drive and function, discover policies you should have in your workplace, and get the information and resources you need to address marijuana use and cannabis-related products.

NSC Policy Positions

  • Workforce Drug Testing: NSC believes employers must maintain a workplace free of all forms of impairment, regardless of the legal status of the impairing substance. NSC supports employers’ rights to drug test workers as a condition of employment, during employment in reasonable suspicion-based or post-incident circumstances and/or in random drug-testing programs. NSC also supports workers’ right to privacy and the appropriate review of drug testing results by third-party validation of illicit drug use.
  • Cannabis Impairment in Safety Sensitive Positions: NSC believes there is no level of cannabis use that is safe or acceptable for employees who work in safety sensitive positions. NSC supports policies to mitigate and eliminate the risks of cannabis and other products containing THC, the impairing component in cannabis.
  • Drug Recognition Experts (DRE): Methods to determine impairment other than those used to test for alcohol must be available. NSC supports increased federal, state and local funding for training and deployment of drug recognition experts, the continued validation and refinement of the 12 step DRE process and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement training for law enforcement officials.
  • Oral Fluid Drug Testing in the Workplace: NSC supports the collection and testing of oral fluid (saliva) specimens as an acceptable method for workplace drug testing programs.
  • Confirmation of Positive Drug Screen Results in Transportation Safety Cases: Recommends all presumptive positive drug screen results in samples obtained following transportation accidents be confirmed by an alternate analytical method prior to issuing a report.
  • Substance-free Workplace Policies and Programs: Supports the right of employers to maintain a workplace free of all forms of impairment, regardless of the legal status of the impairing substance, and encourages all employers to develop written policies and procedures to address this critical safety issue.
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS): Supports policies aimed at reducing electronic nicotine delivery systems use, with a particular emphasis on policies that restrict e-cigarette use by teenagers.

Impact of Legalization

In June 2019, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Thirty-four states and Washington, D.C., now have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, meaning a majority of Americans live in a state with some form of legal use. Read the NSC statement on the impacts of legalization.

Survey Results

The National Safety Council conducted a survey focused on public perceptions of the importance and impact of accidental or preventable deaths compared to those of other causes of death and injury. More than 2,000 surveys were completed between April 30 and May 9, 2019. Get the survey results.

State Map of Cannabis Laws

Access to cannabis varies widely from state to state. Get the map.

Marijuana 101

Eighty percent of employers surveyed said they were concerned about marijuana having a negative impact on their workforce. Learn the basics of cannabis and how the drug moves through the body. Get the one-pager.

Workplace Costs

Cannabis can have a major impact on safety in the workplace. See the associated workplace costs and what employers can do to address cannabis use on the job.

ADID Recommendations

This report describes the review and update to the NSC Alcohol, Drugs and Impairment Division recommendations for the toxicological investigation of suspected alcohol- and drug-impaired driving cases and motor vehicle fatalities.

The updates are made based on a survey of practices in laboratories in the U.S. and Canada, consideration of existing epidemiological crash and arrest data, current drug use patterns and practical considerations of widely available technology platforms in laboratories performing this work.

The recommendation updates are derived from a consensus of experts recruited from survey respondents and the membership of the NSC Alcohol, Drug and Impairment Division.

Drug-impaired Driving

Drug-impaired driving is a widespread problem in America. Spread the word about the dangerous impact of driving under the influence of drugs, whether legally prescribed or illegal, with materials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you feel different, you drive different.