Employees at Cannabis Grower Found to be “Fit for Duty” 6+ Hours after Consumption
Cannabis growers Danielle and Juddy Rosellison, owners of Trail Blazin’ Productions in Bellingham, WA, have always believed that drug tests can unfairly prevent capable workers from being employed. For frequent cannabis users this is especially true since THC can be detected in the body even several days after use. This false positive result motivated the Rosellisons to sign up for a pilot program with Impairment Science to test the efficacy of Druid, a testing app and monitoring system that detects cognitive and motor impairment, regardless of the cause.
The Rosellisons were eager to participate, hoping the pilot program would help other business owners who have been concerned about the fairness of current drug-testing procedures. “Many people who work use cannabis legally and rely on it to help them in their daily lives,” said Danielle, an active member of the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce, “but antiquated ideas about drug testing can make it hard to get hired or stay employed.” Trail Blazin’ Productions, she added, depends on the loyalty and hard work of a dedicated workforce, most of whom are cannabis users, in a state that was among the first to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
How Trail Blazin’ Deployed Druid with their Workers
Druid is an app that measures cognitive and motor impairment. Grounded in neuroscience research on impairment, the Druid app requires users to perform four game-like tasks that measure reaction time, decision-making accuracy, hand-eye coordination, time estimation, balance, and the ability to perform divided-attention tasks. All four tasks can be completed in under three minutes. The app collects and integrates hundreds of measurements during that time to produce an overall impairment score. Each user’s test scores are compared to both their “baseline” score, plus a standardized intoxication score to gauge their impairment level.
The Trail Blazin’ pilot was done with a volunteer group of employees who agreed to use Druid for three weeks, both during work hours and afterwards as well as on weekends and other days off. Employee identities remained anonymous through the use of pseudonyms. After each test, the participants completed a short questionnaire to rate how impaired they felt, how much sleep they’d had in past 24 hours, and how long it had been since they stopped using cannabis or another substance. Employee test scores were automatically recorded in Impairment Science’s management system, called Druid Enterprise, which tracks users’ scores and sends alerts to company managers for high test scores.
Findings from the Pilot Program
The Trail Blazin’ pilot program showed that workers can perform on the job even when they were measurably impaired the night before.
- Test scores at night, when users reported they had recently used cannabis, alcohol, or other drugs, were often 20-30% higher than their established “baseline” score.
- Test scores during work hours were almost always close to their normal baseline if 6 or more hours had elapsed since they stopped using cannabis.
For the duration of the study a total of only 11 scores signaled possible impairment. These elevated scores triggered an alert to managers to investigate further. The reasons for these high scores included recent cannabis use, but also lack of sleep, recent alcohol or other drug use, grogginess from prescription drugs, or a combination of these causes. The Druid app thus functioned as a warning system to safeguard workplace safety.
In a post-study survey, the participants said they did not find the Druid tests to be intrusive, even with the time it required each day. They also saw Druid’s value in the workplace. One worker wrote, “Just because I had 0.4g [of cannabis] or so last night doesn’t mean I’m affected by it today, just like someone might be able to drink alcohol the night before and still show up to work with zero repercussions. I think you should be able to consume [cannabis] in the evenings without threat of losing your job.”
Implication for Workplace Safety Across Industries
The pilot program showed how Druid could be a breakthrough in many situations where impairment causing accidents or injuries could have a detrimental and costly impact. Impairment Science initially developed Druid Enterprise for companies with safety-sensitive jobs, including mining and construction, but sees its viability in many other industries, including health care and wellness. “The Druid testing app and enterprise system can help in any work environment where health and safety are at risk,” said Impairment Science’s CEO Rob Schiller. “The test is fast, non-invasive, and provides a quick assessment of a person’s ability to work, drive, or perform tasks against their normal level”.
At Trail Blazin’ Productions, Danielle plans to continue using Druid on a periodic basis. “I’m concerned particularly with our delivery drivers, but it’s also helpful to get a pulse on all workers’ alertness and productivity. Our employees are like family, but we are a business.” Reflecting on the pilot program, she said, “I hope our main finding – that habitual cannabis users are fit for duty when they stop use at least six hours before starting work – will get other companies to understand that current drug-testing procedures are not just unfair to employees, but act to undermine their ability to hire and keep a productive workforce.