The Dangers (for Employers) of Synthetic Marijuana

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Happy Early Halloween!
With everything else employers have on their plates, please forgive the early “trick or treat,” but we wanted to give you a quick head's up that we are starting to see an increase in "synthetic marijuana" or K2 use in the workplace. 
Medical professionals say it is more dangerous both to individuals and in the workplace than “natural” marijuana because users never really know what all is in it, how it was made, etc.  So, the effects of it can be more intense and unpredictable than natural marijuana. 
Another problem is because currently it is only illegal in a few states (Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Missouri), most employers cannot do anything about such use at work under their current drug and alcohol policies – which usually only refer to “illegal drugs and alcohol.”  It also does not show up on drug tests, unless you specifically request that individuals be tested for it.  (It is not part of the usual DOT drug tests).
This is the reason for this alert.  We are advising employers to treat synthetic marijuana like alcohol (i.e., as a "legal" substance that you do not want on your premises or in your employees’ systems on the job due to its potentially impairing effects).  This means adding specific mention of it to your drug and alcohol policies and specifically including it in  your instructions to  your affiliated drug testing facilities as one of the illicit substances you want employees tested for as a tool to help enforce such policies.
Oh well, don’t shoot the messenger!  If you need assistance reviewing and/or revising your current handbooks or other policies in preparation for 2013, please feel free to contact Stacie Caraway or any member of our Labor & Employment law Practice Group.
The opinions expressed in this bulletin are intended for general guidance only. They are not intended as recommendations for specific situations. As always, readers should consult a qualified attorney for specific legal guidance. Should you need assistance from a Miller & Martin attorney, please call 1-800-275-7303.