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In the past few months, there have been some dramatic changes on the legality of the use of Cannabis.     This summer saw the UK legalisation of the use of Medicinal CBD oil – as a result of public media support for patients such as Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley.  This was followed up last week by Canada legalising Cannabis for recreational use – making Canada the largest legal marketplace for Cannabis overnight.

It’s safe to say the perceptions of cannabis-use around the world are changing.  But with so many ways of describing the drug, it can be confusing understanding what all the different types are.  Put simply:

Cannabis is the name of the overall species – where all the variants originate from.

Marijuana is the leaves of the plant – it contains the psychoactive chemical that makes people feel high.

Hemp is the stock of the plant (common in the health food industry, but also used in paper, construction materials and plastics) – it does not contain the psychoactive chemical, or at least not enough to get you high.

And lastly, THC is the psychoactive chemical (short for tetrahydrocannabinol) that gets you stoned.

When talking about the legality of cannabis what we are actually referring to is the legality of the psychoactive chemical in cannabis.  Have you ever wondered why you can go into Holland & Barretts and get cannabis oil? Right there on the shelves! Well simply enough, it doesn’t have the THC element in it. So no getting high for you.

But the real question with THC becoming legal in several parts of the world, and now with it being available for use medically in the UK, how does that change what we do in the workplace?

Simply enough it doesn’t.

Our role at AlcoDigital is to make sure companies are competent to perform their Drug and Alcohol testing.  So if a drug is legal, does that mean it’s safe to use in the workplace? No. Not at all.

Alcohol is legal in the UK.  But just because it is legal doesn’t mean that it’s safe to drive. In fact, according to Drug Science alcohol causes more harm than any other type of drug – but that’s a subject for another day.  Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s completely safe.  This is why we have restrictions on these items. In the UK it’s illegal to purchase alcohol aged below 18; just as there are limits imposed for drink and drug driving.

Medicinal Cannabis being legalised has no effect on workplace testing.  A positive for THC will only be as a result of EITHER illegal drug use – OR Medicinal drug use supported by a prescription (although its unlikely a patient on the receiving end of a medicinal THC prescription would be operating machinery or driving, as their medical ailment would prevent it).

If you’re in charge of testing your employees and worried your policy won’t stand now,  do not worry.  If your policy states that you have a zero tolerance to illegal or non-prescribed drugs,  you don’t need to change a thing.

Canada may have legalised THC/Cannabis/Marijuana for recreational use, but it is still illegal to drive while high on drugs