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Regardless of those issues, our reliance on drug testing detracts from the true nature of impairment.

 A July 17th ruling from the Massachusetts Supreme Court on allowing medical marijuana use as treatment for disability has essentially negated the earlier argument that federal laws override state laws in allowing marijuana use by employees.

Companies can no longer count on the precedent from 2015 that supported Dish Network in firing an employee who used medical marijuana(1) at the time, citing that state law had to line up with federal law when it came to how companies handled their labor force.

The first law suit came from a random drug test.  The ruling in July came from a pre-employment drug test screening. Both types of testing have their merits, and both have their flaws. But neither ever provided complete prevention of impairment. On the table below, it’s obvious that all but the most addicted people can stop using most drugs long enough to pass a pre-employment drug test.


Not only can potential employees get around this pre-employment scrutiny, but the efficacy of randomized drug testing has never been adequately proven to improve safety or to hamper the use of drugs by employees.

Regardless of those issues, our reliance on drug testing detracts from the true nature of impairment. Ever been up all night with a sick child? Your brain’s ability to function without sleep is the same as if you were drunk.2 It’s not a crime to stay up all night with a sick child, yet that person poses just as much of a safety risk as a person who has been drinking. That doesn’t quite fit the current paradigm. We believe the paradigm needs to shift.

A poorly-functioning brain, for whatever reason, is where impairment impacts the workplace.  That’s why a top-screen indicator of cognitive impairment, like AlertMeter®, is a more complete solution for all the many reasons why someone may be seriously off their game.

Life happens and then we go to work. Setting up a system to identify employees who are struggling with alertness, and then making good decisions to keep everyone safe with or without punitive measures, is a better way to improve workplace safety and productivity.

To learn more, contact us.


  1. Coats v. Dish Network L.L.C. Court of Appeals Nos. 12CA0595 & 12CA1704
  2. A. Williamson and A. Fever (2010).  Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication Occup Environ Med. 2000 Oct;57(10):649-55.

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