CALGARY, A.B. – The oil and gas industry, which has been trying to curb the use of drugs and improve safety, has a slight case of reefer madness when it comes to the federal government’s plans to legalize marijuana.
According to an article in the Financial Post, the safety organization Enform wrote a letter earlier this week to the federal government’s Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation saying that legalized marijuana would make jobsites unsafe.
In the letter, Enform president and CEO Cameron MacGillvray said that the safety issues pertaining to alcohol and drug use are leading the petroleum industry’s efforts to control and reduce the risk of workplace injuries.”
He added that “There can be no doubt that marijuana use is incompatible with working in a safety-sensitive workplace.”
Though there aren’t any indications that marijuana would automatically be allowed on job sites, industry associations are concerned about that possibility.
“Maybe during a coffee break where employees are allowed to go to a smoking zone and they can fire up a joint now,” Petroleum Services Association of Canada president Mark Salkeld said. “They’re not allowed to open a beer, but these are things we want to have a conversation about and make sure there are clear policies.”
Enform is demanding that at the very least, the sale and use of marijuana at or in the vicinity of safety-sensitive workplaces should be prohibited.
Mark Salkeld, president of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada says that compared to enforcing similar prohibitions on the use of alcohol on jobsites and in many worker camps in the industry. Unlike with alcohol, there is no breathalyzer test for marijuana that would show that someone is impaired at the time of the test.
While there are drug tests that can determine whether someone has traces of marijuana, those traces can stay in the bloodstream for weeks.
The majority of the industry currently pre-screens for alcohol and drug abuse by requiring urine samples from applicants, while others also conduct drug tests at random.