Drug Focus – Cannabis

Most individuals have a clear understanding of pot, dope, hash or the familiar and colloquial terms used to describe marijuana. But how many are actually aware of the chemical make-up and the effects of this apparently “harmless” plant?  Is marijuana a congenial little green tree that should be welcomed onto balconies and into backyards across Australia, as is currently the case in the Australian Capital Territory, or is it more of a safety and health concern than originally thought?

According to the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre based in Randwick, Sydney, “there are a range of health and social harms associated with cannabis use. In recent times there has also been a marked increase in presentations to specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services for problems associated with it.”[1] Marijuana, with its the chemical compound THC (cannabinoid) that gives the “high,” is the most commonly used drug in our country, and over 600,000 Australians have smoked it or imbibed it in the past seven days. In addition, 49.5% of 20-29 year old have at some time, used the drug.[2]

And of concern to industry and business is that 13.5% of the workforce has used cannabis at some point, with a greater proportion of tradespeople using cannabis than any other occupation.[3] Both short and long term effects of the drug are known to impact workplace safety, team morale and appropriate decision-making. Significantly, the following side effects commonly associated with THC may pose an even increased risk in relation to heavy machinery and vehicular operations in areas such as mining, transport, aviation etc:

  • Short-term memory problems
  • Impaired thinking
  • Loss of balance and co-ordination
  • Decreased concentration
  • Changes in sensory perception
  • Impaired ability to perform complex tasks
  • Decreased alertness
  • Decreased reaction time. [4]

Pidd, in “Drugs and Alcohol Abuse and Testing of Workers for the Presence of Drugs and Alcohol,” states that “research evidence links hazardous and/or harmful use with negative outcomes for both individuals and work organisations…illness and injury, accidents, high absenteeism, prosecution under OHS legislation, risk of litigation, poor performance, bad publicity, low morale and low productivity.” [5]

In addition, long term effects include:

  • Increased risk of respiratory disease including lung cancer
  • Decreased memory and learning abilities
  • Decreased motivation in areas such as study, work, concentration
  • Possible exacerbation of mental health issues and psychosis

Drug Testing for THC in both urine and oral saliva specimens is now legislated for, and implemented in many industries throughout Australia. CMM Technology delivers accurate testing using the Oraline Saliva Drug Test which can identify bio-available drug traces that are still recent and “active” within the body. It also delivers urinalysis test products such as the Medix Integrated Pro-Split tests, which successfully identify leftover metabolites in the urine. These products are also accompanied by new testing processes for the increasingly problematic synthetic cannabinoid compounds – JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-250 (marketed in Australia under the brand name Kronic,) that are gaining popularity in certain sectors.

If you or your business and/or industry are concerned about safety compromises in the workplace and a possible link with marijuana use, phone CMM technology for information on latest testing products.

CMM Technology 08 9204 2522


[1]http://ncpic.org.au/

[2] Pidd, K. “Drugs and Alcohol Abuse and Testing of Workers for the Presence of Drugs and Alcohol,” National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University. P. 2.

[3] NCETA Annual Report, 2008. National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction. (NCETA) Adelaide.

[4] Cannabis in the Workplace Factsheet.

[5] Pidd, K. “Drugs and Alcohol Abuse and Testing of Workers for the Presence of Drugs and Alcohol,” National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Flinders University. P. 2.

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