Quarterly Updates

Spring 2019

Conflicting Court Decisions on Medical Marijuana and Pending Legislation on Recreational Use of Marijuana

New Jersey adopted the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) in 2009, making New Jersey the fourteenth state to permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Like all such state laws, CUMMA created an exception to the laws criminalizing the production, sale, purchase, possession and use of marijuana. A limited category of qualified patients and their primary caregivers, with proper written authorization from their treating physicians, may purchase and utilize limited amounts of marijuana for medical purposes. Organizations licensed by the State, known as “alternative treatment centers,” are the sole authorized providers of medical marijuana. CUMMA affords registered patients with an affirmative defense against criminal prosecution and shields qualified users and suppliers from civil and administrative remedies. However, CUMMA expressly warns that “[n]othing in [CUMMA] shall be construed to require … an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.” N.J.S.A. 24:6I-14.

Winter 2019

OSHA Reconsiders Post-Accident Drug Testing: Proceed, but Still Use Caution

On May 12, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor shook up the employment community by suggesting that post-accident drug testing could no longer be lawful. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had that day released an amended rule pertaining to the reporting and tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. The amendment included a prohibition against employers discharging or in any manner discriminating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. Although the amended rule itself did not mention post-accident drug testing in any way, the sixty-seven pages of “Supplementary Information” that accompanied the amended rule suggested that automatic post-injury drug testing could be considered “a form of adverse action that can discourage reporting” of work-related injuries and illnesses. Although drug testing was deemed “a reasonable workplace policy in some situations, it is often perceived as an invasion of privacy.”

Fall 2018

Good News and Bad News on Substance Use Trends

This edition of the Drugs Don’t Work in NJ quarterly update focuses on recent trends in substance use and misuse in New Jersey and the United States, which feature both positive and negative developments. Part 1 of the update, contributed by Quest Diagnostics, highlights the 2017 drug testing results for various substances, including cocaine, opioids and marijuana. On an encouraging note, positive tests for prescription opioids have declined, but unfortunately, cocaine and marijuana are becoming more commonly detected in drug tests. In Part 2, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey takes a closer look at the numbers behind the opioid epidemic in New Jersey. The number of opioid prescriptions has decreased, but the total number of opioid overdoses continued to rise..

Summer 2018

Workplace Drug Use Surges to a 10-Year High, as Employers Focus on Working with Individuals Suffering from Addiction

Daily news reports detail the tragic effects of illegal drug use and addiction on individuals, families and communities. Typically, our workplaces serve as a microcosm of the larger society. Quest Diagnostics’ most recent Drug Testing Index, covering 2017 and published in June 2018, reveals that the number of positive workplace drug tests has increased year-over-year to levels last seen more than a decade ago.

Spring 2018

Are You Prepared to Address the Opioid Crisis in Your Workplace?

The workplace is not immune to the opioid crisis that has gripped New Jersey. Managers and business owners are facing the challenges on a more frequent basis as both their employees and customers are impacted. This year’s DDW Annual Seminar provided an overview of the scope of the opioid crisis by Assistant Special Agent In Charge Nicholas Kolen from the Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division.

Winter 2018

New Trends in Workforce Drug Use

In the early afternoon of Jan. 4, 1987, an Amtrak train crashed into a locomotive 18 miles northeast of Baltimore, causing 16 deaths and dozens of injuries. In post-accident drug and alcohol testing, the engineer driving the train tested positive for marijuana, although no one noticed anything unusual about his behavior before the crash that day.

Fall 2017

Enforcement Activities and the Opioid Crisis

The battle to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic has many fronts. As the epidemic is top-of-mind in the nation’s collective consciousness, extending to the President and state governors, the fight has also turned to the courts. Recently the New York Attorney General announced that a coalition of 41 Attorneys General from around the country have issued subpoenas on a number of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. The subpoenas seek information on the methods the manufacturers and distributors employ in marketing opioids to prescribers.

Summer 2017

The New Workplace Addiction Cost Calculator Helps Businesses Understand the Real Costs of Substance Use in the Workforce Find Out How Much Substance Use Disorders Are Costing Your Business

Nearly 100 professionals arrived at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City for the 20th Annual Legal Issues of a Drug-Free Workplace Statewide Seminar held by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) on Wednesday, June 7. At the event, PDFNJ also honored former Gov. James J. Florio by presenting him with the Drugs Don’t Work in NJ! Founder’s Award for his active role in establishing the program in 1992.

Spring 2017

Experts Address Legal Issues of Drug-Free Workplace at 20th Annual Drugs Don’t Work in NJ! Seminar

Nearly 100 professionals arrived at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City for the 20th Annual Legal Issues of a Drug-Free Workplace Statewide Seminar held by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) on Wednesday, June 7. At the event, PDFNJ also honored former Gov. James J. Florio by presenting him with the Drugs Don’t Work in NJ! Founder’s Award for his active role in establishing the program in 1992.

Winter 2017

Must New Jersey Employers Reimburse Medical Marijuana Costs Under Their Workers’ Compensation Plans?

On December 15, 2016, a New Jersey Judge of Workers’ Compensation issued a decision requiring an employee’s medical marijuana expenses to be reimbursed by his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. As one of the first decisions in the country holding medical marijuana costs to be compensable by a workers’ compensation insurer, the case gathered substantial national attention in the popular media. It made New Jersey the fourth state, along with Maine, Minnesota and New Mexico, in which a workers’ compensation insurer has been ordered to pay for medical marijuana for an injured worker.

Fall 2016

OSHA and Post-Accident Drug Testing: Proceed with Caution

On May 12, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor released amended regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) pertaining to the reporting and tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses. Employers are required to “establish a reasonable procedure for employees to report work-related injuries and illnesses promptly and accurately.”

Spring 2016

Drug Use Is Up

There is bad news for employers who strive for drug free workplaces. The annual Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index (DTI) shows that the positive drug test rates for almost 6,600,000 urine drug tests in the U.S. workforce increased by 9.3 % in 2014 compared to 2013. The year 2013 was the first year in ten years in which the overall positive rate for urine drug tests increased. Prior to 2013, positive results went down nearly every year for over 24 years.

Winter 2016

Prescription Opioids Carry Substantial Risks

The prescribing of opioid painkillers is becoming more common – and more dangerous – so increased awareness is necessary, particularly in the workplace. By being aware of the problems and committed to preventing it, companies can play a decisive role in the well-being of New Jersey’s citizens.

Fall 2015

DUI: It’s Not Just About Alcohol

Driving is a complex task that requires continuous information processing and coordinated responses to ever-changing traffic while operating a multi-ton vehicle on public roads. Clearly, drugs that alter a driver’s normal brain functioning can create an extremely hazardous situation. Drugged driving has become a national threat that rivals the dangers caused by the better-recognized problem of drunk driving. The massive national response to drunk driving – including more than 1.5 million arrests a year for DUI – has driven those numbers down over the past decade. But the nation’s 16 million current users of illegal drugs have faced no similar effort as they continue to drive under the influence of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and opiates.

Summer 2015

Legalized Marijuana and the Drug-Free Workplace, the Saga Continues: Coats v. Dish Networks, LLC.

The national trend toward liberalization of marijuana laws continues. As of this writing, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow the sale, purchase and use of marijuana for medical purposes, while four states – Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado – and the District of Columbia permit the sale and consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes. Yet this apparent sea-change in attitudes toward marijuana use has not yet impacted employers’ ability to maintain drug-free workplaces. Virtually every state court that has addressed the issue has followed the lead of California Supreme Court, which held, in a case called Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc., that employers are not required to accommodate employees who use medical marijuana, and that employees may lawfully be terminated for testing positive for medical marijuana in a workplace drug test.

Spring 2015

The Therapeutic Utility of Employment in Treating Drug Addiction: Science to Application

Addressing chronic drug addiction among unemployed and economically disadvantaged adults is a daunting challenge. Employment is critical in addressing the poverty and economic disadvantage; however, controlled research suggests that employment could play a valuable role in treating drug addiction as well. Contrary to common conceptions, employment alone may not have robust effects on drug use.

Winter 2015

New Legislation Poised to Create Safer, Healthier New Jersey

It’s impossible to ignore the dark cloud of prescription drug and heroin that has loomed over our state for the last few years. 2013 saw a staggering number of opioid overdose deaths across our state. When all was said and done, two families lost a loved one to this devastating epidemic everyday. In 2014, the Narcan program was launched, which put the lifesaving overdose reversal medication in the hands of law enforcement and first responders, saving hundreds of lives. Now, in 2015, our lawmakers and law enforcement officials are working to establish vital partnerships with treatment facilities to get those who are resuscitated by Narcan the help they need to finally end their addiction.”

Fall 2014

Can an Employer Test Employees for the Lawful Use of Prescription Drugs? One Employer is Fighting for its Policy

In recent years, the percentage of Americans taking prescription drugs has increased dramatically. During the most recent period, from 2007 to 2010, about 48 percent of people said they were taking a prescription medication, and one in ten are estimated to take five or more prescription medications at the same time, which significantly increases the likelihood of adverse interactions between the medications, according to the Centers for Disease Control report titled “Health, United States, 2013.”

Summer 2014

Drug Trends Increase for the First Time in 10 Years

With both Washington State and Colorado now legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, businesses throughout the country are beginning to ask many questions as to how this change may impact the workforce.

Spring 2014

Does Your Employee Assistance Program Comply with New Jersey Law?

Mandatory Follow-Up Alcohol Testing Violates Rights of Alcoholic Employees, New Jersey Appeals Court Concludes

Winter 2014

The ADA, FMLA, and the Illegal Use of Prescription Drugs at Work

A recent decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit provides insight into the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as to employees misusing prescription drugs in the workplace.

Fall 2013

Annual Drug Testing Survey Shows Mixed Results

For this edition of the quarterly Drugs Don’t Work newsletter, I’m pleased to report some good news: Americans in the workplace are testing positive less to marijuana and cocaine, according to a new study just published by Quest Diagnostics, Inc. Unfortunately, with good news often comes bad news: positive tests for amphetamines and other prescription drugs are on the rise.

Summer 2013

Marijuana Legalization – Coming Soon? What the Evolving Marijuana Laws Mean to the Workplace

Last November, voters in Colorado and Washington voted, by a slim margin, to legalize the use of marijuana for all individuals over the age of 21. Colorado’s new law, which expressly suggested that the state should regulate the use and sale of marijuana like alcohol, was foreseeable, as Colorado in 2000 adopted a medical marijuana law that was expanded to offer marijuana to individuals with a generous array of health concerns.

Spring 2013

Medical Marijuana and The Drug-Free Workplace In New Jersey

Nearly three years after it was passed, and following numerous false starts, the “New Jersey Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act” finally became a reality with the opening of New Jersey’s first medical marijuana dispensary — the Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair — on December 6, 2012. It is now timely to ask the question: What impact will New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) have on employer efforts to create and maintain drug-free workplaces?

Winter 2013

How Prescription Drug Abuse Became a Workplace Problem… and what Employers Can Do About It

According to the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, the abuse of prescription drugs has soared in recent years, coming in second only to marijuana use as the nation’s most commonly abused illegal drug.

Fall 2012

Synthetic Marijuana(K2/Spice) & DEA NEWS: Nationwide Synthetic Drug Takedown

K2 or “spice” are terms used to describe a variety of products made of dried, shredded plant material laced with synthetic compounds.

WASHINGTON – More than 90 individuals were arrested and more than five million packets of finished designer synthetic drugs were seized in the first-ever nationwide law enforcement action against the synthetic designer drug industry responsible for the production and sale of synthetic drugs that are often marketed as bath salts, Spice, incense, or plant food.

Summer 2012

Drug and Alcohol Testing for Holders of Commercial Driver’s Licenses

To achieve the goal of a drug- and alcohol-free transportation environment, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) has adopted regulations (the “DOT Regulations”) requiring certain commercial motor vehicle operators to be tested for alcohol and drugs.

Spring 2012

What’s In a Policy – Does Your Drug-Free Workplace Policy Work?

Last year, Drugs Don’t Work New Jersey undertook a survey of in-state employers, to gauge their drug-free workplace policies and practices.

Winter 2012

Company Health Concerns, Workplace Policy, & Employee Drug and Alcohol Testing,

As a follow up to a study PDFNJ commissioned in 2008, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind recently completed a telephone survey of 301 randomly selected employers in NJ, including an oversampling of businesses with over 100 employees.

Fall 2011

New Jersey Trends in Substance Abuse

No matter how hard we work at substance abuse prevention, education, and treatment, the nature of addiction seems to ensure that it will be a long time before the United States can conclude that it has eliminated the scourge, much as it once eliminated polio.

Summer 2011

Case study: When does “current” drug use become “former” drug use?

One of the more difficult issues for employers dealing with drug use in the workplace is distinguishing between employees “currently engaged” in the illegal use of drugs and those who are no longer so engaging.

Spring 2011

It’s time to start winning the War on Drugs

New Jersey Drug Court Program Economic Impact

Winter 2011

ADA Limits on Medical Inquiries May Include Tests for Legal Drugs

Employer Drug Testing Policies:Legal Drugs are Different

Autumn 2010

Recent Data Shows that Marijuana is Still the Number One Drug of Abuse

According to data recently released by the Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp), marijuana is still the drug most often detected by employment drug tests.

Summer 2010

DOT Adopts New Drug & Alcohol Testing Rules – Do You Need to Update Your Drug Testing Program?

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) final rule amending certain drug testing procedures goes into effect October 1, and regulated employers are moving to update their written testing plans and practices to reflect the changes.

Spring 2010

A Case Study in How Not to Terminate an Employee Who Failed a Drug Test

Sometimes a court decision can be instructive not because of the law it promulgates, but because of the object lesson it provides. Such a case is the Matter of Michael Brown, an unpublished decision recently decided by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

Winter 2010

Cocaine and Amphetamine Use Continue Decline; Test Methods Evolve

A new “Drug Testing Index Special Report” issued by laboratory giant Quest Diagnostics suggests that the abuse of illegal amphetamines and cocaine have continued to decline among United States workers, although it appears that urine drug tests fail to detect a fair number of those who abuse these drugs.