What companies need to know about drug tests now that Cannabis is legal for personal use

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Rhys Evans, Managing Director at ALCO-Safe, experts in drug and alcohol testing solutions says,

“Companies must go back to basics and look at creating drug policies as the foundation and ensure their employees are educated on the risks of consumption whilst at work. Therefore, highlighting the danger of consuming drugs in a work environment whilst implementing regular drug testing. Nevertheless, with the recent legalisation of ‘dagga’ companies need to be able to test the employees to find out if they are under the influence rather than just detecting if they have ever consumed the substance before.”

The importance of testing
Evans further explains that ALCO-Safe focuses purely on delivering alcohol and drug testing solutions as well as services such as training and calibration. They embark on a journey with its clients from formulating policies through to providing support at CCMA cases once the necessary equipment and procedures are in place. This is particularly important in the heavy-duty industries such as mining and construction as it assists to not only reduce the risk of accidents, it also improves productivity. Response rates are slower when drugs such as cannabis are consumed, and reflexes are dulled. It is therefore vital for companies to implement regular drug testing.

Cannabis use – Urine tests vs saliva tests
Traditionally, conducting urine tests is common in the workplace. They test for the metabolite of the drug which in many cases can show up in urine for a number of days after the drug was last used. As a result, it is a trusted and accurate method for verifying the extended use of any drug.
“However, there is a big movement, due to the recent change in laws surrounding cannabis use, to use a saliva test.” Evans explains, “Saliva tests detect the primary or psychoactive compound and therefore have much shorter detection windows. This is better when trying to confirm if an employee is under the influence of cannabis at that point in time.”.

The importance of testing for influence rather than usage
With saliva tests a drug can be detected after consumption within as short a period as one day ago. Consequently, the usage of saliva tests have increased when compared to urine testing attributed to the fact that saliva tests have the main benefit of a short detection window thus increasing the accuracy of drug use results.”

Using the right testing equipment
More to the point, the Oratect saliva drug test from ALCO-Safe delivers a fast, accurate ‘pass or fail’ result within 5 minutes. Employers can now test for marijuana usage quickly and easily if they have used cannabis in the last 3 to 8 hours. The Oratect saliva drug test is a stick that can also detect a number of other drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetimines, opiates and benzodiazepines.

“With the increase of marijuana use due to its recent endorsement it is more important than ever to engage with a company that understands the unique challenges to specific industries i.e. a company that understands that cannabis usage is not necessarily the ‘problem’ but rather if employees are under the influence. They should also be involved in assisting organisations to develop their policies, ensuring they are fair and reasonable, whilst assisting to educating the workforce.” Evans concludes.

Alcosafe Product 2016

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