Murphy Presents on Drug Testing to Symposium

On June 13, 2019 GRL’s own Colin Murphy presented the topic of Litigating the Intoxication Defense before a packed house at the Downtown Marriott during the 57th Iowa Workers Compensation Symposium.

The topic of workplace drug testing has taken on added significance following a recent amendment to Iowa Code section 85.16.  The new law creates a rebuttable presumption that “positive [drug] test results” show the employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury and the intoxication was a substantial factor in causing the injury.  The test results can be used to deny weekly benefits and even terminate employment depending on the employer’s policies.  The new law also shifts the burden to the injured worker to prove that he wasn’t intoxicated at the time or the intoxication was not a substantial factor in causing the injury.

Colin thoroughly explained clinical and forensic chemical testing of urine and blood for both alcohol and controlled substances and discussed how to best litigate these issues from the claimant’s and employer’s perspective.

The highlight of the presentation was an in-depth discussion of urine testing for inactive metabolites of THC and how a positive test may indicate nothing more than the lawful use of a non-psychoactive cannabis extract, like CBD, in the days or even weeks leading up to a workplace injury.  Full spectrum CBD extracted from hemp, legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, may contain trace quantities of THC, which can yield positive test results depending on the frequency of use.

Colin later took questions from the attendees, some of whom had pending cases that could directly benefit from the information presented.

This is yet another great example of the firm’s commitment to help educate the public and legal community and lead the way in advancing the state-of-the-art in drug and alcohol litigation.