ACNA Releases Statement On Workplace Drug Testing

A national nursing organization has released a statement regarding workplace drug testing.

On Wednesday, May 12, the American Cannabis Nurses Association’s (ACNA) Policy & Government Affairs Committee announced its official position regarding workplace drug testing for nurses, condemning the practice.

Testing And Impairment

ACNA says the statement’s purpose is to call for an elimination of pre-employment and random drug testing for nurses.

Instead, ACNA says that there should be a reliable test for impairment while on the job.

According to the ACNA position statement, urinalysis is not a reliable source for determining impairment from cannabis use because THC is stored in fatty tissue and can remain in the body for at least 30 days.

ACNA says research has not determined, with certainty, the duration that THC is detectable in chronic and heavy users.

“Testing for cannabinoids, especially THC, is not a reliable test for impairment, and there is no evidence to support that testing improves workplace performance or decrease (sic) workplace accidents,” says ACNA President Eloise Theisen. “As more and more states move towards legalizing medical and adult use cannabis, employers will need to start reviewing the evidence and make policy changes that are based on evidence and not fear.”

ACNA says that as more nurses experience health conditions, they deserve to choose what forms of treatment they use.

According to ACNA, many nurses will be treating chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia with cannabis as evidence emerges to support using it for such symptoms.

Testing and Discrimination

PG&A Committee Chair Michael Rochlin says drug testing for cannabis is discriminatory and does not ensure safety.

“It is clear that the war on drugs’ punitive measures such as mandatory cannabis drug testing, can impact critical availability of nurses,” says Rochlin. “Especially now during this pandemic.”

ACNA recommends that drug testing for cannabis should be discontinued for nurses with a qualified documented medical condition.

Additionally, ACNA says that drug testing for signs of impairment should include testing by a trained and qualified Medical Review Officer or other medical professional using a validated test for cognitive impairment, not blood or urine analysis.