Still no timeline on NJ rules for experts on workaholics

TRENTON — After frustrated lawmakers demanded action to establish rules for workplace impairment experts required as part of the legalization of recreational marijuana, cannabis regulators in the State assured that it was a priority, but still no timetable.

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission provided an update on its progress at its monthly meeting last week, recapping months of meetings and research and acknowledging the importance of the topic.

CRC chief counsel Christopher Riggs said work on setting standards for workplace impairment recognition experts, or WIRE, began last September, a month after the adoption of general regulations on legal sales for adult use.

The legalization act directs the CRC to try to cooperate with the Police Training Commission on WIRE regulations, but Riggs said by November it was clear there would be a problem with that.

“At this time, we were informed that the Police Training Board does not train drug recognition experts for law enforcement, nor does it train WIRE,” Riggs said.

“All DRE, drug recognition expert, police training in New Jersey is provided by the New Jersey State Police, and no private company provides this same type of training,” he said. . “DRE training is only available to law enforcement officers, and they would not offer these courses to civilians.”

Riggs said the CRC is continuing conversations on the subject and responding to questions from interested groups, as it attempts to balance the rights of employers to a drug-free workforce with the rights of individuals to use cannabis. legal.

“We continue to conduct research to determine what would be the best way to implement a WIRE certification process and to ensure that the program is robust and that we are introducing this type of program safely and fairly,” Riggs said. .

Regardless of the delay, Eric Echevarria, a licensed clinical social worker and licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor, said New Jersey is opening businesses up to liability and litigation by having SONS.

“It is difficult, if not impossible, for a person to determine if someone is intoxicated by consuming marijuana on the spot. It’s very unreliable,” Echevarria said.

“A person who is undergoing training, no matter how long the training, it is simply impossible for that person to determine whether someone is currently under the influence,” he said.

But now that adult-use marijuana is legal, companies are calling for WIREs because they’re required in conjunction with drug testing under state law.

“We need clarity for our community of employers,” Chrissy Buteas, government affairs manager for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said during her May 12 hearing. “We have hundreds of thousands of businesses, millions of employees affected by this law – including the private sector, nonprofits and government.”

“So we’re in a situation right now where we have a law that says we have to train these WIREs and meet certain criteria, but we don’t have any real regulations explaining the certification process,” Buteas said.

The NJBIA wants the state to license a wide variety of entities to provide WIRE training, including corporations and private trade associations, and allow them to be certified by national certification boards.

He also wants WIREs to be able to perform physical exams virtually, similar to a telehealth visit.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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