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Medicinal Cannabis and WA’s Mining Industry


DASA: Medicinal Cannabis and WA’s Mining Industry

The use of medicinal cannabis in Australia continues to rise. The number of workplaces now having to manage workers using medicinal cannabis is also on the rise.


As outlined in this ABC article, Surge in medicinal cannabis use creates growing problem for WA's mining industry - ABC News, there is a growing prevalence for medicinal cannabis use among (fly-in-fly-out) workers in the mining industry. In this case, a contractor to Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) was stood down for failing a drug test (positive for THC) despite having a prescription for the drug.


The problem for this mining company and for all organisations, is that cannabis containing THC is impairing – regardless of whether the user has a prescription or not. And in the workplace, that makes medicinal cannabis a safety risk.


In trying to manage this risk in a practical and equitable way, FMG updated their drug and alcohol policy to allow the use of medicinal cannabis where THC levels are below 50ug/L (micrograms per litre) in a urine onsite drug test. The problem with this, some users say, is that level is too low to be effective. Also, as it’s a urine drug test, if taken regularly, the medicinal cannabis will build up in the body and be detected at higher levels over time. If an oral fluids onsite drug test is used as a guide, it would be a better indication of recent usage with no residual build-up effects.


As this case clearly demonstrates, managing medicinal cannabis at work is a complex and complicated issue. Drug and alcohol policies need to include medicinal cannabis and the organisation’s expectations should be made clear.


However, when it comes to managing individual cases, a detailed understanding of the drug test result, the individual’s prescription and their usage behaviour, in the context of their work duties, is essential.


DASA has the expertise needed to navigate this tricky terrain. Our occupational physician, Associate Professor David Allen, and our pharmacologist, Judith Griffin, have the knowledge and the experience to help you manage medicinal cannabis in your workplace.


To get in touch call 1300 230 231 or send an email to info@dasa.net.au


 

DASA (Drug and Alcohol Solutions Australia) is proud to be leading the way in workplace drug and alcohol testing services throughout Australia. Whether your need is for workplace drug and workplace alcohol testing, advice on drug and alcohol policy or ideas on how to communicate your workplace expectations, policies and procedures to your staff, DASA can help. We have the experience, technical expertise and people to lead you to the right solution.

 

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