Skip to comments.Recreational Marijuana: Cause and effect in the Oilfield?
Posted on 01/03/2014 11:29:03 AM PST by thackney
Recreational Marijuana: Cause and effect in the Oilfield? The forthcoming battle for employers!
Although I was a bit hesitant to write this, recent events in the State Of Colorado has more or less made this a national topic and of course it will be a very debated subject in the oilfield.
First and foremost, I wish to make it clear that I personally do not condone or support the use of any motion or mind altering drug, whether legal or not, for use on any oilfield operation. Our industry is dangerous enough without adding any other factor into daily operations where a clear head and fast reactions to any situation are an absolute must. The lives of too many people are at risk where quick and concise actions by any and all are must for survival in many operational situations. With that being said, it is the context of this scenario by which we will discuss off the job usage and only that.
The current scenario is such that the Federal Government has more or less, washed it's hands of the whole marijuana usage issue and placed it firmly upon the shoulders of the State Governments. As all of us have seen, Colorado has opened its doors to both medical and recreational usage as of Jan 01, 2014. A lot of people have seen this coming, the pros and cons have vigorously been debated from both sides of the fence. None of the debates on board any rig that I was on ever proposed the usage on board the vessel in any shape, form or fashion. We are a sort of hard core bunch but even we know better than to allow that sort of activity way out there in the middle of nowhere where our lives depend on quick and immediate responses to danger. None of us want crane operators, subsea engineers, drillers, etc., stoned out of their mind running equipment and making snap decisions which could cost us all dearly. Self preservation for offshore hands is game rule number 1 at all times.
Now here is where it's going to get interesting for Operators, Contractors, Legal Departments and even HR and Recruiters. I see more and more states that will follow Colorado's example, even outside California, real soon. The monetary gains for states is too vast to ignore, sales taxes will soar, permits, licensing, etc., will be a new and steady source of income to the state coffers. Let's not forget that as soon as it becomes legal, each and every person now serving time in State Correctional facilities can be released thus saving the budget nearly $65,000 per inmate per year. The court systems can now flush every pending marijuana case on the books and relieve themselves of that load and expense as well. Local and state police and even the DEA will no longer be inclined to deal with this as it will surely fall under the BATF to regulate sales and growth. DUI of course will still be available to local and state enforcement agencies with new testing procedures and so forth.
Now where it's going to get sticky for employers, is those pre-employment drug screens and random tests on board and perhaps at the heliports. For the moment, it is my understanding that the states will more or less give employers the right to maintain their policies on the use of marijuana. As we all know from past experience, this will last only as long as the first major civil liberties lawsuit is taken to court. The dilemma being, if you live in a state where marijuana is legal for recreational use and as a citizen of the state, you partake of said substance on your time off in compliance of the law, what will the consequence of that in regards to being tested at your place of employment outside of your home state? Even more so, can you be denied employment in a non legal state on an initial drug screen if it is perfectly legal in you home state?
I can safely say, this is going to be a legal nightmare for employers from one end of the USA to the other. Civil Liberties vs Employer Rights will no doubt be a media frenzy and capture a lot of attention. Myself and many a rig hand have debated this vigorously with the pros and cons concerning individual rights and the employers. The resolutions to every scenario never were agreed upon to the satisfaction of both sides of the fence. I write this article to see what everyone else out there has to say on the subject. There is no doubt that employer legal departments have been kicking this scenario around for quite a while. It will be interesting to see what the general oilfield populace has to say on this subject.
Get used to getting needles for blood tests, both from cops at traffic stops and randomly from employers. They need current blood for a test of the active THC to see if you are currently high. A urinalysis only detects metabolized THC. It will be a real bag of worms to sort out, and pretty soon the cops will have the expectation that they can demand your blood, or take your license.
Smoke all they want but don’t expect to have a job where dangerous conditions are present.
And, I don’t think there are any sort of standards for dope intoxication.
The SF86 used for security clearances has section 23 which covers illegal use of drugs or controlled substances. Considering that it’s still illegal under federal law to consume pot, this may have an impact in Colorado Springs.
“...can you be denied employment in a non legal state
on an initial drug screen if it is perfectly legal
in you home state?...”
I know of several companies where tobacco use is a bar to employment,
and they pre-screen job applicants and random test employees for it.
I can't wait until we get a conservative administration so we can invade these pesky states and kill all the dope-smokin slackers!
We really need to use all this ammo pilin up in Uncle's warehouses...
“Smoke all they want but dont expect to have a job where dangerous conditions are present.”
You can get killed anywhere by inattention or stupidity, both of which are enhanced with THC. When I was a bag boy 35 years ago an employee mixed a gallon of Clorox and two bottles of ammonia. I had to carry him out and we evacuated the store. (It did kill about two dozen rats.)
This employee was so dangerous I begged the manager to fire him. Later, he was stocking a brand new store and he asked what that thing was running down the back of the stairs. An employee told him it was a sprinkler head and explained how it worked. So he took his lighter and clicked it under the head. The entire system went off an ruined everything in the store and delayed opening it for another month. They finally fired him. (I would have fired his manager. But nobody asked me.)
I’ve often wondered whether he’s still alive and if so how many lives he’s ruined. (I suspected he was a pot user, but couldn’t prove it.)
I work in the industry, and legal or not, it will never be legal at the refinery, pipe terminal or fab shop, or any other entities on the property..
There will be soon I suspect.
Although the 5 nanagram per se limit has yet to be implemented into law in Colorado, the police and prosecutors are already arguing that 5 nanograms of active THC is the per se level and will try to bring in their state expert to testify that 5 nanograms means you are unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.
The Feds have not washed thier hands of pot prohibition in the work place. Employers in dangerous/hazardous industries are still required to drug test employees prior to hiring and randomly thereafter, as well as part of any safety incident. See for example
Category Regulatory Information
Collection Code of Federal Regulations (annual edition)
SuDoc Class Number AE 2.106/3:49/
Contained Within Title 49 - Transportation
Title 49 - Transportation
Subtitle B - Other Regulations Relating to Transportation (Continued)
Chapter I - PIPELINE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS SAFETY ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (CONTINUED)
Subchapter D - PIPELINE SAFETY
Part 199 - DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING
Date October 1, 2009
Authority 49 U.S.C. 5103, 60102, 60104, 60108, 60117, and 60118; 49 CFR 1.53.
Source 53 FR 47096, Nov. 21, 1988, unless otherwise noted.
CFR References 49 CFR 1.53
49 CFR 1.53
Federal Register References 53 FR 47096
United States Code Reference 49 U.S.C. 5103, 60102, 60104, 60108, 60117 and 60118
Yep, I’ve had to pass drug test to work on site for DOT regulated pipelines before. That is not going to change. Most employers are going to require the drug test if they work in the industry; they could not get affordable insurance even if they wanted to do otherwise.
Truthfully, I doubt that many roughnecks would be attracted to marijuana in favor of alcohol, because alcohol provides a lot of calories, fast, which you need when doing hard labor in cold temperatures.
The best bet is that those who are smoking ‘stupid weed’ should be given a deadline, of “no smoking after midnight the night before working.” Assuming work begins at 6am or later.
I would also add an additional warning that they should never use marijuana for therapeutic reasons, like pain relief, without a doctor’s say so; because often it does not work as well as other medicines, and being stoned on top of being crippled up doesn’t do anybody any good.
And I would finish my briefing by requiring that anyone using oxycodone, oxymorphone, heroin, methadone or similar drugs *must* have that cleared with the company doctor, as that stuff is truly dangerous, and if they are hooked on it, they need serious help to get off it.
I've never know a single drinker to drink for that reason. And anyone doing it for when they are working on the job site, when actually performing the labor, won't be doing it very long.
The best bet is that those who are smoking stupid weed should be given a deadline, of no smoking after midnight the night before working. Assuming work begins at 6am or later.
I don't think that will happen. When Alaska decriminalized pot, it didn't. For the Alaskan oil workers (post original pipeline construction) it has been pass a drug test or go home.
Why exactly is being stoned better than being drunk?
The only people who ever got stoned routinely in one place I worked in NYC were the mailroom boys, who would sit on the steps of the building at lunch passing the joints around...and then everybody would wonder why nothing ever got delivered correctly...
If working drunk isn’t cool or is even a fireable offense, why is working stoned OK?
are you allowed to come to work drug? in the vast majority of cases the answers is no.
will the issue of being “under the influence” with respect to drugs change, just because like alcohol marijuana might be legal in a jurisdiction? no.
its legal to drink alcohol
it is not legal to be “under the influence” of alcohol or many mind altering drugs while driving or while doing various other work related tasks where safety might be an issue - nothing about making marijuana legal in a jurisdiction will change that, any more than legal alcohol is a license to be drunk whenever, where ever you chose
the issue is a non-issue
I employ people in the oilfield stretching from Utah, to Colorado, to New Mexico, and Texas.
I don’t care if it is legal; you get fired if you are a pot smoker. I even test for bath salts.
We deal with dangerous equipment and people need to be sharp.
“I know of several companies where tobacco use is a bar to employment,
and they pre-screen job applicants and random test employees for it.”
Liberal health Nazi zeal is going to come back and bite them on their stoner bee hinds.
5 ng is an absolute value and these things are usually done as concentrations. So maybe this is 5 ng/ml?