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Marijuana and workplace safety: NSC, others call on House to schedule hearings on MORE Act

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Itasca, IL — Concerned about the “current and potential” impacts of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 on workplace health and safety, the National Safety Council, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and 20 other organizations are calling on the House to conduct hearings on the matter.

The bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3884), introduced in July 2019 by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), is aimed at decriminalizing marijuana. “Specifically, it removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes or possesses marijuana,” a summary of the bill reads.

In a letter sent to House members, the coalition writes: “Like alcohol, marijuana can impair judgment and performance. However, impairment levels for marijuana have not yet been scientifically defined. Thus, unlike alcohol, safe levels for marijuana have not been delineated, standardized, or established by statute or regulation. Similarly, functional marijuana sobriety or impairment tests and cutoff levels are not generally available.”

Workers who tested positive for marijuana were involved in 55% more industrial incidents, 85% more injuries and 75% greater absenteeism than employees who tested negative, NSC states in a Sept. 17 press release, citing a study reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Employers have an obligation to maintain safe workplaces, and without a better understanding of the impact on workplace safety, these changes will affect the safety of workers, their co-workers and the general public,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said in the release. “We implore members of the House to explore the workplace safety effects of the MORE Act. This includes developing an evidence-based standard for detecting marijuana impairment.”

Marijuana is legal for recreational use by people 21 and older in 11 states and the District of Columbia, and legal for medical use in 33 states.

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