If some of Connecticut’s major employers are reluctant to weigh in on the impact the stateÂ’s new medical marijuana law might have on companies (BNH, June 2012), one staunch proponent of a drug-free workplace is not quite so sanguine.
Fay: Just say no
Â“ItÂ’s terrible from an employerÂ’s standpoint,Â” asserts Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America Foundation. Â“Employers have an obligation to provide a safe and healthy environment for their employees. This clouds the issue.Â”
Fay wrote an opinion piece on the subject that was published in the July 2 Hartford Courant. BNH subsequently spoke with Fay, who discussed the law via phone from her St. Petersburg, Fla., office.
Among business-endangering issues Fay raises regarding the new law are employee impairment, lowered productivity, higher probability of accidents, increased insurance premiums and other costs, and loss of grants and federal contracts that stipulate drug-free environments among award criteria.
Â“The small [business] employer can least afford it,Â” says Fay, who also heads the organization Save Our Society From Drugs. Â“All it takes is one accident to literally wipe out a small employer. They canÂ’t afford it.Â”
Fay offers anecdotal situations relayed to her and statistics to support her stance. She also notes that she speaks as an employer herself.
It becomes a Â“productivity issue,Â” she says, when Â“it hampers my ability to get things done here. To just call in sick a lot hurts valium generic small business, or to have someone sleeping at their desk. Employers cannot afford that, cheap ambien small employers.Â”
And, she adds, Â“If the small employer is providing insurance, it definitely runs the insurance [premium] up.Â”
The Connecticut law states that nothing in it, or in existing general statues, should be interpreted as requiring health insurance for medical marijuana use. Smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes is not approved by the federal Food & Drug Administration. Incidents that might be related to medical marijuana use, such as an increased incidence of workplace accidents, are likely to affect insurance premiums, Fay says.
With the exception of prohibition by federal law or guidelines, ConnecticutÂ’s new law prevents an employer from firing or failing to hire a worker because of medical marijuana use. That is particularly burdensome for employers, says Fay, a former principal of Forward Edge, a pioneering drug-testing company, who was cited by President George W. Bush for buy ambien drug-prevention efforts.
Â“Why should I as an employer have my hands tied?Â” when making staffing decisions, she asks. Â“Under the Connecticut bill, legally, that bars an employer from making work decisions.Â”
In addition, Fay says, the law makes employers vulnerable to lawsuits by employees who might be adversely affected by a coworker under the influence of medical marijuana.
Â“ItÂ’s a terrible bill for employers,Â” she says. Â“It completely ties the hands of employers.Â”
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