Testing It Up

TestCountry Interviews Corporate Drug Testing Expert Bill Current

Bill Current (courtesy of BillCurrent.com)

Bill Current (courtesy of BillCurrent.com)

Bill Current, who is president of WFC & Associates, LLC, says the three biggest issues on the horizon for corporate drug testing are the continued march of marijuana legalization for both medical and recreational purposes, the upcoming federal regulations on oral fluid drug testing and the continuing trend of companies demanding to know the return on investment of corporate drug testing.

TestCountry recently spoke with Current about the importance of having a drug testing policy in place and the simplest and most cost-effective way a company can develop one.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome for companies that want to implement a drug testing program, Current notes, is the maze of various state laws that a company has to navigate through to make sure it is complying with all the laws it needs to.

On top of the state laws, there are also federal regulations to consider, which adds to the confusion of drawing up a comprehensive drug testing policy, which is why it’s important for businesses to make sure they are doing it correctly, Current adds.

To read the full interview with this corporate drug testing expert, click here.

Today at 7:48 am Comments (0)

Colorado Employers Allegedly Discriminating Against Marijuana Users

Although marijuana is now legal in Colorado for recreational use, many employers still consider it a controlled substance (as it is classified federally) and discriminate against its users. drug testing Texas politiciansUrine drug tests are often used to screen potential employees by having them pass a pre-employment drug check or by screening employees by random drug testing on the job.

Drug testing business MCC, located in Grand Junction, said they’ve seen hundreds of jobs impacted by failed drug tests, particularly for marijuana, which is the drug most likely to show up in a urinalysis test.

“I want to say about 80% of our positives are for marijuana,” said MCC drug test collector Kyle Raaflaub. “THC stores in the fat cells so some people that aren’t very active… can have THC in their system up to 45 days. Vicodin, oxycontin, stuff like that, ecstacy, cocaine… those will only have a time table of 24 to 36 hours.”

Testing positive for any amount of marijuana is legal grounds to prevent employment or immediate termination.

Staffing agency Labor etc. says it must turn away potential employment candidates on a weekly basis for failing a drug test due to having THC, marijuana’s psychoactive substance, in their system.

“We get a percentage of our potential employees that have come up positive for THC that argue the fact that it’s legal in Colorado,” said Labor etc. Sales Director Kris Cox. “That they should be able to smoke marijuana and still be accepted for a position, but it is the employer right to say no.”

Current Colorado Law favors business owners banning all personal employee marijuana use on the basis that this is an at-will state.

“Employers can generally terminate employees at their will for no reason, or for any reason as long as it’s a lawful reason,” said employment attorney Anna Itenberg.

The recently enacted Amendment 64 also has a clause reserving employers right’s to drug test. But this seems to contradict Colorado Division of Regulatory Agency’s off-duty statute, which was put in place to protect employees from termination based on what they do in their time outside of work such as cigarette smoking.

The statute reads, “It shall be a discriminatory… for an employer to terminate… any employee due to that employee’s engaging in any lawful activity off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours…”

The Colorado National Organization Reforming Marijuana Laws (CO NORML) said urinalysis testing should not be allowed because it gives positive results for marijuana activity that could’ve occurred weeks ago.

“The reason why we don’t think drug testing should be used is because drug testing for marijuana does not show any type of impairment,” said CO NORML executive director Rachel Gillette.

The state government says it’s okay to smoke marijuana medically and recreationally, but employers seem to disagree.

March 3, 2014 at 7:54 am Comments (0)

Should E-Cigarettes be Included in Tobacco-Free Workplace Policy?

Someone recently asked us about employee testing policies involving tobacco and electronic cigarettes. Here’s a snippet of the message sent to us:

e-cigarette“When taking over my company, I came across a current employment policy prohibiting tobacco use (specifically worded as “tobacco”) and conducting hair follicle nicotine testing. Suppose an employee tests positive for nicotine, but claims to be using e-cigs, “The Patch” or even nicotine gum but not tobacco products. Would this be grounds for contesting the results?”

Here are several pieces of information that we discovered related to this case:

  • While electronic cigarettes have no tobacco in them, nicotine remains a component.
  • Alabama-based advocacy group Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives (CASAA) believes that e-cigarettes should not be included in employee policies against nicotine use. According to the Righteous Porkchop website, which reviews e-cigarettes, CASAA legislative director Gregory Conley said “to combine nicotine and tobacco use with the expenses associated with smoking is not a good policy.”
  • Despite the stand of e-cig advocates, many large companies and businesses have chosen to include e-cigarettes as part of their tobacco-free workplace policy. According to a 2013 report by Modern Healthcare, Walmart and United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) are just two of the companies implementing this kind of policy.
  • Policies should be specific whether the purpose is to weed out people who use either tobacco or nicotine. A number of life insurance providers are more concerned with clients putting nicotine in their bodies, rather than asking if they smoke tobacco. Some others have designed special coverage for people who use electronic cigarettes but not tobacco.
February 23, 2014 at 11:36 pm Comment (1)

Unofficial poll shows most Americans would be in favor of drug testing members of congress

An internet survey has found that the majority of respondents are in favor of mandatory random drug testing for US members of congress.drug-testing-at-work

The Huffington Post ran the survey, which interviewed 1,000 US adults, Nov. 25 – 27.

The findings:

  • 64% of Americans favor requiring welfare recipients to submit to random drug testing, while 18% oppose it.
  •  78% of Americans favor random drug testing for members of Congress, while 7% oppose it.
  • 62% said they “strongly” favor drug testing for congressional lawmakers, compared to only 51% who said the same of welfare recipients.
  • 86% of Republicans, 77% of Democrats and 75% of independents said they want drug testing for members of Congress.
  • 66% said that a member of Congress convicted of possessing a small amount of cocaine should be forced to resign, while only 14% favored allowing the convicted member to serve out the remainder of his or her term.
  • 72% said they support random drug testing for members of the military, and 87% supported it for airline pilots and 71% said they support random drug testing for professional athletes.
December 4, 2013 at 8:34 am Comments (0)

New York Giants Will Hill Suspended for Marijuana Use

It’s really not the best news for sports enthusiasts this season. Just weeks after news broke about the Biogenesis PED scandal in baseball and the positive drug tests in track and field, football is now the next sport to be hit by a drug controversy.

Photo credit: nj.com

Photo credit: nj.com

New York Giants safety Will Hill admitted to news outlets that he was slapped with a four-game suspension by the NFL for testing positive to marijuana use during last season’s drug test. He was earlier suspended for being discovered to take performance-enhancing drugs, particularly Adderall.

While he is allowed to appear in training and pre-season plays, Hill will not get a chance to play the first four games of the 2013 regular season.

The 23-year-old free agent shared how he got tangled up with drug use early on in life. “Coming out and growing up in this environment here, I had a lot of stress from my environments, and (drugs were) the only way I knew how to cope with it,” he said. In addition, he confirmed that it was through his team that he started reshaping his life.

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin only had a short message for the player: “We’re disappointed, and hopefully Will is going to get his life straightened out.”

Hill is a native of East Orange in New Jersey, and attended the University of Florida where he played as safety for the Florida Gators.

July 29, 2013 at 4:00 am Comments (0)

Marijuana Threshold Increased Ten-Fold for Winter Olympics

Society has certainly warmed up on the use of marijuana, so much so that even the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is slowly beginning to thaw.

urine sampleWADA, the non-profit foundation that supervises the use of drugs in sporting events such as the Summer and Winter Olympics recently updated its threshold limit for marijuana metabolites from the original 15 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL, or ten times the previous upper limit.

Agency spokesperson Ben Nichols said that the reason behind the change is to be able to catch athletes who use pot within the competition period. “The new threshold level is an attempt to ensure that in-competition use is detected and not use during the days and weeks before competition,” Nichols said in a news statement.

Meanwhile, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws executive director Allen St. Pierre believes that the increase in threshold level will only be able to detect those who are “pretty dedicated cannabis consumer(s)”.

Canadian Ross Rebagliati, the first Olympic gold medalist for snowboarding at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, tested positive for marijuana, which almost cost him his medal. However, he retained the title after officials declared that THC was not included in the banned substances list at the time. After that, Rebagliati has become a poster boy for marijuana-smoking Olympic athletes. “Everybody knew I was a pot smoker after the Olympics,” he said.

July 22, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Employee Random Drug Testing Fees Increase in Hanover Hospital

For a locality that conducts random drug testing five times a year, an increase in the price of employee testing could hurt the local government financially.

drug testThis is the case in Pennsylvania’s Hanover borough, where its main hospital has decided to increase its drug testing fees from $41 to $45, and alcohol tests from $25 to $30. Factoring in an administration fee of $50 will result to a total amount of $95.

Because the borough’s ordinance requires five random drug tests in a year, Hanover Borough will have to shell out $290 a year for worker testing.

Barbara Krebs, Hanover Borough manager, said that the issue is not the cost — which isn’t really too high. What bothers her is the “principle of the issue”. She says the hospital should not slap additional fees onto the borough. After all, “we don’t charge each time we conduct a fire drill for them,” she added in a news report.

Krebs and the rest of the borough heads have been discussing these matters with Hanover Hospital officers to iron out any further issues. The hospital’s marketing and development director Lisa Duffy said the “hospital and borough are working together regarding these matters.” On the borough’s side, Krebs shared her contentment in the opening of communication lines between them and the hospital, citing further that increases in the future shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

July 6, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Canada Supreme Court Rejects Mandatory Workplace Alcohol Testing

Ensuring safety in the workplace should not cross the right to privacy of any employee.

workplace alcohol test rejected by canada supreme courtThis appears to be the drive behind the decision of Canada’s Supreme Court June 14 against the employee policy of Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. implemented in 2006. The company’s policy required all unionized employees to be subjected to random alcohol testing in order to ensure safety of the company’s manufacturing plant, according to a news report.

Local 30 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) filed a grievance against the company in 2006.

According to the supreme court decision, the paper company’s policy encroaches on the rights of employees to privacy, even if the workers are employed in a critical area within the facility. The high court voted 6-3 against the company.

Furthermore, the decision stated that mandatory workplace testing only applies in the work setting under the following conditions: (1) the company has experienced worker impairment while employed; (2) an employee figured in a work-related accident or safety issue; and (3) the worker has a history or case of substance abuse, and has returned to work following necessary treatment.

CEP president David Coles was hopeful that this supreme court decision could lead to another triumph in a similar case in Alberta’s Suncor Energy, where plans to implement a random alcohol and drug testing system are being laid out.

Furthermore, he said that the ruling shows that policies on random testing in high-risk facilities do not guarantee employee protection. “It turns out to be nothing more than an invasion of ones’ privacy with no net gain for the consequence of safety,” Coles added.

June 18, 2013 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Employers Lose $6,000 Per Year On Smokers

Companies may think twice before hiring smokers when they learn about this research recently conducted by public health practitioners.

A study released June 3 in the online journal Tobacco Control showed that smoking employees cost their employers significantly more money than non-smoking workers. A team of researchers led by Micah Berman revealed that each smoker can cost the employer almost $6,000 more every year.

The monetary amount was based on company losses brought about by smoking breaks and additional health care coverage for smokers. “Employees who smoke impose significant excess costs on private employers,” Berman said in a news statement.

According to the results, smokers tend to log more absences and off-days, translating to an additional annual cost of $462 per smoking employee. They also work with low productivity, resulting in $517 of additional annual cost. Higher costs per year are also evident in smoking breaks ($3,077) and more health care expenses ($2,056) for each worker who smokes.

In contrast, companies can “save” money in annual pension costs since smokers die earlier than non-smokers on the average. Estimated annual “savings” compute to an average of $296 per smoker. As a result, the total additional cost per smoking employee comes to $5,816.

The study concluded that the results might have an effect on how private companies will intensify smoking policies for their own employees. “It is important to remember that the costs imposed by tobacco use are not simply financial costs. It is not possible to put a price on the lost lives and the human suffering caused by smoking,” the research team noted.

June 8, 2013 at 12:00 am Comment (1)

UFC Increases Marijuana Limit for Fighters

Mixed martial arts promotion company UFC has changed the regulation of marijuana for its active fighters.

Officials recently declared in a press statement that UFC will start implementing a higher threshold for marijuana metabolites from 50 to 150 ng/mL during drug testing, meaning fighters can have higher traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their system without necessarily failing a drug test.

Marc Ratner, VP of regulatory affairs for UFC, said that the company is following the footsteps of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to increase the upper limit of THC in the bloodstream of fighters.

WADA is a non-profit foundation aimed at promoting and monitoring the cause against drugs in sports.

UFC is one of the many sports leagues that implements self-regulation to monitor and sanction their own athletes for marijuana use. This policy has been proven to be effective, especially in foreign territories where they have bouts. Last March, UFC bantamweight fighter Alex Caceres tested positive on a marijuana test conducted after his win over Kyung Ho Kang in Japan.

This bold move by UFC has also prompted other organizations affiliated with them to implement similar standards. According to Ratner, the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission has also committed to the same threshold of marijuana metabolites for drug tests within the month.

UFC head honchos believe that this change in policy will improve the apprehension of fighters who use marijuana while in competition, and minimize the incidents of catching fighters taking cannabis days before the competition as part of medical treatment.

While marijuana is considered a regulated substance, UFC fighter Thiago Silva shared in a recent interview that pot “doesn’t change your performance.”

June 2, 2013 at 8:20 pm Comments (0)

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