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The use of cannabis, whether legal or not, is always an emotive and controversial issue. The best way to gain an objective perspective is to compare it to the use of alcohol, which is certainly legal in New Zealand and has been socially acceptable for an immeasurable amount of time. So, the question to address today – how do cannabis and construction relate, particularly with the upcoming referendum in New Zealand?

Cannabis And Construction

We all know you should not drink and drive but no-one, not even the police, have an issue with an adult consuming alcohol on a Saturday night and then driving their car on Monday! Like alcohol, the impairment is short-lived but completely unlike alcohol, metabolites from marijuana use stay in the system for weeks.

Is Cannabis And Construction A Looming Safety Disaster?

Safety in the workplace is, of course, the real issue here, but is it accurate to assume that a worker who uses Cannabis on the weekend is more of a risk than one who drinks on the weekend? With the impending referendum on legalisation in 2020, these are questions that re going to arise from employers, users, and also the construction insurance industry.

The use of marijuana at work can impair a worker’s ability to perform more complex tasks, such as operating heavy equipment and driving vehicles. According to Safework Laboratories in Australia, it can result in workplace accidents that cause injuries and even deaths. This should all be viewed against a background of the NZ construction industry’s severe shortage of construction workers, tradies, or qualified truck and forklift drivers.

Are Urine Tests The Best Tool We Have?

The issue lies mostly with the method of testing. A urine test will tell you if the subject has recently partaken of alcohol and is still experiencing its effect but cannot do the same for marijuana. Currently, one could make the argument that any Cannabis use is an illegal activity, but this then becomes a moral judgment that is not directly linked to safety. It becomes a moot point if Cannabis use becomes legal. Fortunately, there is a better test readily available. A verified saliva test is a fairer way of checking for drug impairment rather than drug use.

It can, therefore, be concluded that Cannabis use, legal or not, particularly during working hours, is of concern to the construction industry. As we move forward into the new year, employers should strive to ensure that their employment agreements and policies re. drugs & alcohol, are up to date and fit for purpose.

It’s crucial that you seek to protect the long-term viability of your business. Manage the risks facing our industry with professional advice; Bonded NZ Ltd is a specialist construction and liability insurance broker ready to assist. We can provide independent advice on the options available for protecting your business, including builders warranties and surety bonds. Future-proof your business with a no-obligation discussion, and contact us today.