If you are the owner of a Wisconsin construction company, chances are good that you have dealt with the consequences of workers who smoke marijuana. Maybe a stoned construction worker wound up getting hurt on the job and filed a claim for workers' compensation. Perhaps a laborer made a costly error after getting high at lunch time. Either way, a stoned workforce can't consistently produce quality work for your clients.
Land of the stoners?
One study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration determined that in one prior 30-day period, it's estimated that more than 22 million residents of the United States over the age of 11 smoked pot. That figure represents 8.3 of the country's population in that demographic group.
Also an issue is the potency of the marijuana being smoked. The National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi tested the potency of today's pot and compared it to the potency of weed back in the 1980s. What 80s potheads were smoking had an average of 3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Researchers tested THC levels in 2012 and found it had increased to 12 percent. Some hybrids, according to the blog MerryJane.com, contain more than 30 percent THC.
How to address marijuana usage by your workers
There are two basic strategies to employ when dealing with pot usage by construction workers. Some company owners take the position that what their workers do off the job is their business — as long as it doesn't affect the workers' on-the-job performance.
Others take a harsher stance and fire any workers who test positive for illegal substances. Because of the nature of testing for marijuana use, it is rather difficult to determine which users are smoking casually at home in the evenings or on weekends and which ones are burning a joint on the ride into work each morning. These business owners prefer to only hire and retain workers who don't smoke pot.
Marijuana and Wisconsin law
Wisconsin hasn't jumped on the bandwagon with other states in a rush to legalize weed. With the exception of non-psychoactive cannabidiol products prescribed for any medical condition by physicians, it's illegal to possess any amount of marijuana in the state.
Should those laws be loosened by another administration in the future, the federal laws classifying marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no permissible usage remain intact.
Business owners have the right to hire and employ the workers they choose. Problems may develop with a worker who claims that a drug test showed a false positive. That's why it's important to have a clear and effective drug testing policy in effect in your workplace. Follow-up testing by another method, e.g., the more expensive hair follicle tests, can confirm the results or rule out drug usage by the employee.
Learn about your right to drug test your Wisconsin employees to ensure that you don't wind up defending yourself in a civil suit filed by a disgruntled former employee.