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Forum focuses on business impact of marijuana legalization

Delaware Public Media

Legal marijuana and the effects it can have on businesses was the subject of a discussion hosted by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.

The main issue Dr. Kevin Sabet sees is that many forms of marijuana are now much more potent.

The former White House Office of National Drug Control Policy advisor notes marijuana found in edibles like cookies, candy, lollipops, gummies and soda is higher and in some cases contains up to 90% THC while high potency is defined as 15-to-20%.

He adds that regular high potency marijuana users are five times more likely to develop psychosis compared to three times more likely regular users of lower potency marijuana of the past.

Sabet says in states where marijuana is legal his group - the Smart Approach to Marijuana – sees huge increases in workplace drug positives.

"Most of the time the levels detected are closer to more recent use, maybe one week. We're not talking about someone who occasionally uses, and they used it once a month and they happened to be tested 29 days later," said Sabet. "That's a huge myth when it comes to testing that it's like that. But marijuana continues to be the most common drug found across all workforce categories."

Sabet says studies show that marijuana users have 55% more industrial accidents at work, there are 85% more injuries and there’s a 75% higher absenteeism rate.

Meanwhile, there are still some legal hurdles to climb if Delaware approves the legalization of marijuana.

Businesses were told, if marijuana is legalized, they need to review their drug policy, that’s because marijuana is illegal under federal law, and they need to make sure they comply with both state and federal laws.

In some cases businesses are banning pre-employment drug testing because those tests could open them up to lawsuits in states where marijuana is legal.

Tim O’Connell is an employment lawyer in the state of Washington, where marijuana is legal.  He believes drug testing should still be used by businesses.

"A number of cities have already banned pre-employment drug testing at least as to marijuana, but it's still a good idea - and why?" said O'Connell. "Frankly you get a better quality of applicant if they know that they're going to have to go through a drug test, and there still are many drugs of abuse out there that you can screen out notwithstanding the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana."

The panel spoke virtually at the Marijuana Policy webinar hosted by the Delaware State Chamber.

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