Illicit drugs

Cannabinol State Laws

by Nicole Jupe on March 28, 2017

Chemically complex, the cannabis sativa plant known as marijuana has hundreds of active compounds and cannabinoids. Ratios of chemicals and potency can differ based upon the age of the plant, the origin, and method of cultivation. Some of the more well-known chemicals in marijuana include:

  • Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): Primary psychoactive ingredient that produces a “high”
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): Antipsychotic, anticonvulsant, antiemetic, and not psychoactive
  • Cannabinol (CBN): weakly psychoactive

The cannabidiol compound found within marijuana has gained recent popularity for its potential therapeutic value. Many believe taking non-psychoactive, cannabidiol-rich cannabis can provide relief for ailments such as nausea, chronic pain, inflammation, spasms, anxiety, and depression. Marijuana growers have even begun crossbreeding marijuana plants to produce higher CBD and lower THC concentrations with the intent of using these plants as medicine.

Limited research is being conducted by a handful of scientists about the risks and benefits of marijuana on health conditions such as, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In August 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provided some funding to improve research but reiterated that marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance.

In 2013, CNN aired a documentary called Weed that shined a national spotlight on medical marijuana. Investigative journalist Dr. Sanjay Gupta traveled the world to interview doctors, researchers, growers, patients, and families about cannabis. The TV special featured a little girl with Dravet syndrome who suffered from violent epileptic seizures and found relief using a low THC/high CBD marijuana extract that derives its name – “Charlotte’s Web” – from the girl it helps to treat. The doctor’s change of heart regarding marijuana inspired a movement of sorts, and families of children suffering from similar conditions started lobbying state legislatures to provide access to CBD.

In 2014, a number of southern states began passing low THC/high CBD laws. Today, sixteen states have low THC/high CBD laws for limited medical purposes. The allowable levels fluctuate by state as shown in the table below. That said, there is no consensus on a permissible ratio of THC and CBD.

What this means for employers is that CBD itself will not show up as a positive result for marijuana in a workplace drug test. However, a medical marijuana cardholder in a low THC/high CBD state could screen positive for THC because some THC is permitted as an ingredient in various CBD products. Specific examples include the laws in Georgia and Virginia, which permit up to 0.5 percent THC. Employers should stay informed about how low THC/high CBD marijuana laws differ in certain states.

Visit the National Conferences of States Legislatures website to stay current on state marijuana laws.

For resources about marijuana and state legislation, visit our website or contact us online.

This information is not intended to serve as legal advice. All information provided by Quest Diagnostics is qualified by the laws and regulations of the individual states, and such information is subject to change. If you have any legal issues or concerns, we urge you to get advice from your attorney.

The Case for Maintaining a Drug Testing Policy

by Steve Beller on March 16, 2017

Employers conduct drug testing for a number of reasons – pre-employment, random, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, and return-to-duty. Of these, reasonable suspicion can often be the most litigious and, as such, points out the importance of creating and maintaining a comprehensive workplace drug testing policy and program. The case of Layne v. Kanawha County Board of Education is a great example of an effective policy in action.

The case was presented in a recent article in the National Law Review. In it, “the petitioner, Layne, was a middle school sign language interpreter who was observed behaving erratically by five employees.”  Her actions were reported to the school principle who subsequently met with Layne. During their conversation, the principle observed suspicious behaviors. Among other things, she had trouble sitting still, was rambling, and seemed overly fixated on items in her bag. The principal documented his observations and requested that she submit to a drug test. The article goes on to state that “when the interpreter refused, the consequences (i.e., disciplinary action) were explained and after refusing further, the school suspended the interpreter.” She continued to refuse to take a drug test and the school opted to not renew her contract, effectively terminating her employment.

Layne fought the termination and sued the Board of Education. She lost her case and subsequently appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court of Appeals found no error in the initial ruling and affirmed the lower court’s decision.

This case demonstrates the importance of creating a detailed, comprehensive workplace drug and alcohol testing policy. Best practices for such a policy include:

  • Have a written policy that clearly spells out the types of testing that will be conducted and the consequences for refusing to test
  • Actively communicate your substance abuse policy to employees
  • Provide supervisor training on the warning signs of drug abuse
  • Make certain that your testing program complies with state laws

Learn more about creating effective workplace testing programs by downloading our Guide to Establishing a Workplace Drug Testing Program. For information on drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

Employee Protections in the Era of Medical Marijuana Legislation

March 10, 2017 Drug Testing

More than twenty states have enacted medical marijuana laws since Proposition 215 was passed by California voters in 1996. The earliest medical marijuana laws typically only provided criminal protections, however in the past two decades, laws are now extending protections to housing, schooling, domestic relations, and employment. State marijuana regulations uniquely address aspects such as […]

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Sobering Facts about the Repeal of Obamacare

January 30, 2017 Drug Testing

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, has been one of the most contentious pieces of legislation in decades. While more than 20 million Americans are covered by the ACA, many have vocalized concerns over the cost and effectiveness of the legislation. With the outcome of November’s election, Congress and President Trump are working to […]

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Some Drug Users Can’t Distinguish Between Right and Wrong

August 17, 2016 Illicit drugs

Aside from being dangerous and highly addictive, cocaine and methamphetamine may also affect the moral judgment of users. Results from a recent study conducted by Psychopharmacology – an international journal that covers the elucidating mechanisms by which drugs affect behavior – revealed that habitual cocaine and methamphetamine users can have difficulty distinguishing between right and […]

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DEA Report Details Heroin Threat

July 1, 2016 News

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published the 2016 National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary on June 27, 2016, detailing the threat of heroin and opioid drug abuse in the United States. Heroin is now available in larger quantities, it is being used by a greater number of people, and it is causing an increasing number […]

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Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Day

June 23, 2016 Illicit drugs

Drug trafficking, once viewed largely as a social and criminal problem, has transformed in recent years into a major threat to the health and safety of citizens in every country. In an effort to create international awareness about the abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) established […]

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The United Kingdom has the Highest Cocaine Use in Europe

June 22, 2016 Illicit drugs

Often associated with rock stars and the “social elite,” cocaine has a long history of use dating back to its origins as a medicinal compound in the late 19th century. Cocaine use reached its peak during the disco era in the 1970s and 80s. Recently, there has been a resurgence of cocaine use, and its […]

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Drugged Drivers Pose a Serious Threat

June 20, 2016 News

According to a recent poll conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), motorists now view drivers, who are under the influence of illicit drugs, as bigger threats to their safety than those driving under the influence of alcohol. Data from the survey revealed the following insights: 74 percent of motorists think people driving after using […]

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Businesses Struggle to Find Drug-Free Workers

May 17, 2016 News

New York Times writer Jackie Calmes reports that employers across the United States are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test. Businesses started noticing a trend once job candidates learned that the next step of the hiring process was a drug test and nearly half of the applicants simply skipped the […]

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