Synopsis: Dr. David Fletcher and Gene Keefe Provide More Thoughts on Recreational/Medical Marijuana for Risk Managers.


Editor’s comment: Please consider the impact of recreational marijuana  on employer drug testing programs. Dr. Fletcher is a director of SafeWorks Illinois and wanted to share these thoughts and slides for your consideration in managing your workforce.


Several central IL employers are going to stop testing for MJ starting January 1, 2020. The team at SafeWorks is scrambling to get test kits that do not test for Marijuana.


Dr. Fletcher and I don’t feel this is strong advice. Contrary to many so-called “experts” that are advising employers to stop testing for marijuana, informed employers can rest assured that their reasonable drug and alcohol testing programs can remain intact thanks to the passage and signing of the “Recreational Marijuana Workplace Protections Enhanced in Veto Session PA 101-253 (Section 10-50  of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act)”.


It is business as usual for employers who have established zero tolerance drug and alcohol policies. They can continue to drug test for marijuana as they feel best and not hire prospective employees who test positive as well as discipline current employees who test positive for marijuana use at work according to the employer’s substance abuse policy.


My worry for all employers across the country is simple—if you don’t drug test and one of your workers who is stoned makes a mistake and hurts lots of people, you may be looking at six-seven-eight-figure damages and, worse, punitive damages. For that reason alone, I join with Dr. Fletcher to tell everyone to dig in and test for marijuana, as part of good business practice.


Dr. Fletcher and I have been doing a lot of reasonable cause supervisor training lately (see below a few slides from SafeWorks and Dr. Fletcher that outline the employer protections). Dr. Fletcher is advocating switching to oral fluid testing for reasonable cause due to the earlier window of detection compared to urine testing. If you want a presentation from the defense team at KCB&A, send a reply.


Hound Labs May Have Developed the Ultimate Marijuana Breathalyzer


Hound Labs is a breath technology company that has developed ultra-sensitive technology for non-invasive breath measurement. Utilizing groundbreaking technology, the Hound® marijuana breathalyzer is the world’s first breathalyzer to rapidly, accurately, and inexpensively measure recent marijuana use and alcohol in a person’s breath. The Hound breathalyzer is intended for law enforcement, employer, and insurance purposes only. Based out of Oakland, CA and founded by a physician, they are hoping to make a big impact on employer testing for marijuana use and impairment.


Take a look at their website:


Another company with similar results and trying to hit the market hard is Cannabix Technologies—check out their website at


I will continue to report progress to my readers as I learn of it.


Going back to Illinois and managing marijuana use in your workforce


Here are some illustrative slides, created by Dr. Fletcher and the team at SafeWorks.








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Synopsis: Weird New Illinois Laws for Everyone to be Aware Of.


Editor’s Comment: Whenever a legislature is busy and doesn’t have a two-party system to keep it on track, you are going to get weird laws. Here are some from Illinois.


From the WC industry perspective, the new minimum wage laws are going to change wage loss differential claims in workers’ comp.


Here are some of the new Illinois laws for 2020 that may affect you:


  • NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS SET FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE/COMPUTERIZED VIDEO INTERVIEWS OF JOB APPLICANTS: There are a number of companies, particularly in the financial sector, that appear to be doing the first interview by computer. If you use computers for interviews, basically, you have explain it and get agreement to do it. Employers who ask applicants for permission to record video interviews and use an artificial intelligence analysis of applicant during recording are covered. Submitted videos shall notify each applicant before the interview that AI may be used to analyze the applicant’s facial expressions and consider the applicant’s fitness for the position. Employers must provide each applicant with an information sheet before the interview explaining how AI works and what characteristics it uses to evaluate applicants. In addition, the applicant must consent to be evaluated by the AI program.


  • PERSONAL INFORMATION PROTECTION: This new law provides that where a single data breach affects more than 500 Illinois residents, the breach must be reported to the Illinois Attorney General. Call your insurance broker to confirm you have cyber-coverage for the increased cost.


  • LEGALIZATION OF PERSONAL and RECREATIONAL USE OF MARIJUANA: The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act allows for the recreational use of cannabis by individuals over the age of 21. Illinois citizens may possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and out of state individuals may possess up to 15 grams. You can only buy marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries, and only partake in the privacy of your own home. Landlords can prohibit cannabis use in their properties, and employers can still prohibit its use and drug test employees. Growing marijuana plants is only allowed for medical patients and even then, they can only have five plants. The Act establishes guidelines pertaining to expungement of records for possession of cannabis, taxation on cannabis, including numerous changes and additions to Illinois law.


  • HIGHER EDUCATION SAVINGS PROGRAM: Every Illinois child will have a 529 savings account! The State Treasurer shall administer the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program, subject to appropriation, beginning in 2021, which will ensure that a 529 college savings account is automatically opened for every child born in Illinois, with an initial deposit in the amount of $50.


  • DEPARTMENT OF LABOR WAGE RECOVERY FROM EMPLOYERS: Restaurant employers beware—this new law provides that gratuities are the property of employees and that employers shall pay gratuities to employees within 13 days after the end of the pay period during which the gratuities were earned.


  • INCREASE IN MINIMUM WAGE: The minimum wage will go up and then up again. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, minimum wage will jump from $8.25 to $9.25 statewide, with the minimum wage for tipped workers and employees under 18 (only those working part-time) increasing proportionally as well. Then in July, it will increase again to $10, then $11 beginning on Jan. 1, 2021. It will keep climbing until it reaches $15 per hour beginning on Jan. 1, 2025. Each employer with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees may claim a credit against payments as set out in the new law.


  • WORKPLACE TRANSPARENCY ACT: On June 2, the General Assembly, through bipartisan efforts, passed SB 75, which created three new laws and amended others that relate to sexual harassment and discrimination. On Aug. 9, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed SB 75, Public Act 101-0221, into law, comprehensively re-shaping the landscape of sexual harassment and discrimination law in Illinois. The new law not only prohibits unilateral agreements to arbitrate claims involving discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for complaining about discrimination or harassment, but also changes sexual harassment reporting and training requirements and impacts how union representation is handled during the course of proceedings related to claims of sexual harassment.


  • BATHROOM SIGNAGE: “Whichever”… Every single-occupancy restroom in a place of public accommodation shall be identified as “restroom” and not indicate a specific gender.


  • BABY CHANGING FACILITY IN PUBLIC BUILDING: Requires that there be at least one baby diaper changing station in women’s and men’s public bathroom, contained within a public building. Signage must be visible.


  • GENDER DESIGNATIONS ON STATE DOCUMENTS: Authorizes the Secretary of State to permit applicants for identification documents to choose between “male,” “female,” or “non-binary” when designating the applicant’s sex on identification card and driver’s license application forms.


  • CONSTRUCTION ZONE PENALTY: Drivers who fail to obey any official traffic-control device shall be fined no less than $100 and no more than $1,000. Penalties for violation of the requirement to use caution in approaching or entering a highway construction or maintenance area or zone increase from a maximum fine of $10,000 to a maximum fine of $25,000.


  • SCOTT’S LAW UPDATES: Scott’s Law requires drivers to change lanes, slow down and proceed with caution in approaching emergency vehicles or disabled cars on the side of the highway. Further requires a motorist who is not able to change lanes to reduce speed and leave a safe distance between them and the stationary vehicles. Penalties for first offense are increased from $100 to $250 and second offense from $750 to $10,000.


  • DRIVERS BEING ADVISED TO USE THE “ZIPPER MERGE METHOD”: The “zipper merge” method of merging occurs when vehicles run in parallel until one lane physically narrows. The vehicles traveling in the open lane should allow the vehicles in the closing lane to enter the open lane on an alternate car basis.


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