By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory and legal issues, ARTBA

ARTBA and industry allies warned U.S. House leaders that federal legislation to legalize marijuana could jeopardize the safety of construction workers and the public, but the chamber’s lawmakers Dec. 4 passed the measure 228-164. It now moves to the Senate, where it faces significant opposition and the dwindling lame duck legislative calendar.

In a Dec. 1 letter, the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) said the bill could impact employers’ ability to adequately drug test their employees. Many ARTBA member firms already have to navigate state laws legalizing marijuana. The coalition explained that working in the construction industry “entails hazardous tasks with numerous laws, regulations and industry best practices to protect workers and the public. While it is reasonable and responsible for employers to ban marijuana during work hours, on-demand testing for marijuana impairment does not currently exist and impairment can last beyond the subjective high or simple observation tactics.”

To address these concerns, the CISC said any relaxing of federal drug restrictions by Congress “must ensure the ability of employers to continue instituting zero tolerance policies that are free from labor and employment law liability.”

ARTBA, which is on the CISC steering committee, will continue to monitor the bill, H.R. 3884, or the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.