Prescription Marijuana: How will OHS Manage the risk?


If recent news and legislation introductions are anything to go by, the Australian government seems set to remove further barriers in the legalisation of cannabis oils, flowers and associated products. This exciting news will allow critical treatments for thousands of Australians. However, from an Occupational Health and Safety perspective, this poses an interesting problem which we will be looking to regulators to provide direction and guidance with regard to its’ management.

Data from OSHA within the United States has shown an increase in the frequency of job accidents and injuries due to short term effects of marijuana which have indicated impaired body movement, slower response times, memory issues and altered time perspective. The above symptoms are not uncommon in respect to any prescription medication.

Where patients are part of the initial test subjects in Victoria, the same risk mitigation approach must be made with respect to any prescription substance used for legitimate reasons by employees. This should involve consultation with the employee in question, their treating physician, an OHS Expert or Consultant as well as the regulator to develop a plan of risk management, you must determine that the substance use:

  • Is safe for use with respect to the organisation;
  • Complies with any other legislation (i.e. Road Regulations) inherent to the employee role;
  • Role risk assessments with respect to tasks required and symptoms of medication is undertaken; and
  • Prescription medications are declared to supervisors to identify reasonable role adjustments or whether the employee is safe to attend work.

A clearance certificate from their treating physician is also strongly recommended, even where formal return to work is not being undertaken.

For assistance with your drug and alcohol policy, control of risks in your workplace and employee reasonable adjustment risk assessments. Contact the SafetyZone team of consultants.

P: 1300 123 647