Workplaces drug-test for legal highs

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 26/04/2014

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Synthetic cannabis is now included in workplace drug testing in South Canterbury.

The New Zealand Drug Testing Agency (NZDDA) conducts about 200 drug tests a month in the district, and Canterbury region general manager Russell Scott said legal highs were being looked for.

"They are a huge issue, no doubt about that. "It's a growing issue," Scott said.

He said it was important because having an employee impaired by a substance put a business at risk.

"Synthetic cannabis is 100 to 800 times more potent than THC.

"If you are going to use it, you need to be prepared that you may have issues.

"Synthetics make people psycho," Scott said.

He said psychoactive substances affected everybody differently. The outcome will be the same, but how fast it happens varies.

Scott said people who sold synthetic cannabis were drug dealers, and there needed to be greater education in the community surrounding the effects and issues raised.

Workplaces in South Canterbury confirmed that they believed legal highs could impair employees' performance and had legal high testing included in their drug and alcohol policies.

Silver Fern Farms confirmed that it had begun testing for legal highs. Its testing is done as part of a nationwide policy, which included its Pareora plant.

Silver Farms spokesman Justin Courtney said testing for synthetic cannabis was part of its programme to provide a drug-free work environment.

"We want a drug-free workplace that is safe for our people."

Meanwhile, Hilton Haulage general manager for HR and compliance Alle Laing said the company had the ability to test for legal highs under its drug and alcohol policy. "People under the influence can affect their ability to be safe at work."

A spokesman for Fonterra said it also tested for the presence of legal highs if it had reasonable cause to believe workers to be affected by that type of stimulant.

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- The Timaru Herald

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