Will workplace drug testing in Queensland pick up medicinal cannabis?


Queensland doctors will soon be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients, so will this lead to a spike in positive workplace drug testing results in Queensland?

As outlined in an ABC news article, last week the Queensland Parliament passed new laws to allow medicinal cannabis to be prescribed to patients. The laws, which will come in to affect in March next year, will allow certain specialists to prescribe the medicinal cannabis. In addition, other doctors, including General Practitioners, will be able to apply to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

An important qualification is that only patients who are facing certain debilitating or terminal conditions will be able to access the medicinal cannabis. For most people, using cannabis will continue to be an illegal practice.

Research has shown that there is evidence to support medicinal cannabis for a range of conditions, including epilepsy, patients undergoing cancer treatment and people with brain tumours. There is no evidence that medicinal cannabis cures these conditions, but it can help ease symptoms such as pain and nausea. In the case of epilepsy, cannabis may be effective in preventing or reducing seizures.

What will be the affect on Queensland workplace drug testing?

If you’re a workplace owner or manager in Queensland, you may be concerned that the new laws will result in more positive drug test results. But you shouldn’t.

The important aspect to note above is the qualification – “only patients who are facing certain debilitating or terminal conditions will be able to access the medicinal cannabis”. These are people who for the vast majority would be unable to work or, if they can work, you would know about their condition.

So if someone provides a positive result during workplace drug testing in your Queensland business and points to the new laws after March next year, tell them they haven’t got a leg to stand on. Cannabis use will still be illegal for the vast majority of Queenslanders and people who are under its influence have no place in the workplace.

What about on our roads?

While the implications for Queensland and Australian businesses over medicinal cannabis is clear, there is a lot of debate on the implications on our roads. That’s because people who take medicinal cannabis may still be road users and, depending on the formulation of the medicinal cannabis, there is a possibility they could get caught in roadside drug testing.

While it’s a relatively complex debate, in simple terms THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive element of cannabis and if it’s present in the medicinal cannabis formulation, then it will provide similar psychoactive side effects as other forms of cannabis. This can include sleepiness, trouble concentrating, burred vision, slower reflexes and more. Do we want people with these types of symptoms on our roads? Clearly not. So it will be important for medicinal cannabis users to have a good understanding of the medicinal cannabis formulation they are taking, what effects it can have and take appropriate action to ensure they are not a danger to themselves or others.

Integrity Sampling conducts workplace drug and alcohol testing at 6 Queensland branches, including Brisbane, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Townsville and Winton. Go to our Queensland branches page for more information.

Queensland doctors will soon be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients, so what will this mean to workplace drug testing in Queensland?

By John

John is the Queensland Manager of Integrity Sampling QLD and is based in the Brisbane office. Integrity Sampling provides its range of drug and alcohol management services, including drug and alcohol testing, right across the state. You can connect with John Lorenzen on LinkedIn

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