Ban those Legal Highs! -Employers be aware of the effects.


I was watching Campbell Live just over a week ago and John Campbell and Peter Dunne were outside a Naenae store that was selling synthetic cannabis. It was 9am and John interviewed a customer who had just purchased his “legal high.” He asked him when he planned to smoke it. The customer replied that he usually smokes it after work, using it instead of marijuana so that he can pass his drug test at work. Clearly his employer has a drug testing regime which does not cover synthetics.

legal highs

Last week Peter Dunne announced the introduction of legislation that will remove  legal highs from shelves, now due within a couple of days. The response to this announcement from users has a common theme; they are now ‘threatening’ to smoke cannabis instead. Whether or not users make good on their threats, the banning of synthetics is likely to have a huge effect on businesses nationwide including:

  • Added risks that employees may binge or use higher quantities prior to the ban
  • Some employees who were users may suffer withdrawal symptoms from legal highs. This could result in increased absenteeism, an increased risk to themselves and others in the workplace, erratic behaviour etc.
  • Employees who currently use synthetic cannabis may switch to illegal cannabis, the side effects of which may be more significant
  • Both cannabis and synthetics may be purchased on the black market, resulting in the possible presence of illegal drugs on your worksite

head full of drugs

In order to be equipped to cope with these possible outcomes, employers may need to ask themselves the following:

  • Do you have employment policies and drug and alcohol policies in place to address these issues?
  • Have you and your team leaders had the right training in regards to assessing whether you think an employee may be under the influence of these substances and thereby possibly affecting the safety of your employees?
  • Do you have support programmes in place for staff that may be affected by these changes?

The government has since admitted that they made a mistake with this legislation; make sure you don’t make the same mistake by ignoring the issue!


by Nicky Dowling




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