The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (or NORML), a marijuana advocacy group based in Denver Colorado, believes that they have discovered an alternative drug test for the workplace. The AlertMeter works by allowing a company or employer to test employees either by downloading an app on a smartphone or by using a touch screen tablet located near the clock-in area. Employees take a test which lasts typically from 60-90 seconds.
This test is based on science from Bowles-Langley Technologies, a company based in San Francisco, California, and the development of this technology was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The BLT Test is integrated into the Fatigue Management system of its’ parent company and has been since 2011.
The test works by having employees look at a series of shapes that must be distinguished from each other in a certain amount of time. After completing the test 10 or so times, the AlertMeter system establishes a baseline of how quickly your brain typically works, and if you perform under your baseline more than twice in a row, the system will alert a designated supervisor. This system detects more than just marijuana usage, it will also be able to tell if you’re running slow due to other drugs, alcohol, or even fatigue.
The AlertMeter is excellent for many reasons, including its user-friendly interface, but NORML focused mainly on the fact that it is able to detect the level of impairment in a person, and not just the level of marijuana metabolites in the bloodstream. This is good news because this “antiquated,” as the NORML executive director Jordan Person referred to it, method of drug testing in the workplace can result in employees being fired from their jobs for failing a drug test during the week even if they were sober at the time of the drug test and had smoked marijuana legally even days before. Marijuana can last in a person’s bloodstream for up to 50 days after consumption according to the most recent results from the Mayo Clinic studies. That is more than a month!
In an effort to implement the AlertMeter in the Colorado workplace, NORML participated in a lobbying event on February 21st. This event took place at the Colorado State Capitol, from 8 am to 3 pm. This was the second lobby day for the Denver NORML activist group. The first lobby day for Denver NORML took place on January 23rd and was also focused primarily on workplace drug testing.
In Colorado, smoking marijuana is legal, so many people are working passionately to change laws which will allow companies to fire hard working employees for legally smoking recreational or medicinal marijuana on their own time. This new form of drug testing will allow companies to “care about [their] employees, instead of just policing them,” according to Carol Setters, the Vice President of Predictive Safety, AlertMeter’s parent company. According to the Colorado based manufacturing company, Vforge, which has already started using AlertMeter in the workplace, this method has reduced worker’s comp claim for their company by 70%.