How Recreational Pot Use Affects Safety-Sensitive Positions

Study indicates occasional users are impaired for at least 24 hours after smoking marijuana.

Drug tests generally can determine if a person smoked or ingested marijuana in the past week but can’t determine if he or she is impaired. So does this make testing for marijuana a worthless endeavor for employers, especially since most pot use is recreational and done hours or days before an employee begins work? According to a 1985 Stanford University study of airline pilots, no.

In the study, 10 experienced private airplane pilots each smoked a low grade marijuana cigarette before carrying out complex and stressful landing maneuvers in a computerized flight simulation laboratory. They did the maneuvers one hour, four hours and 24 hours after smoking pot. During all three tests, the pilots experienced significant impairment.

All of the pilots were experienced marijuana users. They did not show or feel impaired 24 hours after smoking pot, yet they still crashed the planes in the simulated test.

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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