Policies for synthetic drug testing in workplace lacking

Carl Linden
Carl Linden
Greg Azus
Greg Azus

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii employers are testing their workers for marijuana, crystal methamphetamine, and cocaine, but they're not testing for synthetic drugs even though the substances are illegal.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services screens between 5,000 to 10,000 workplace drug tests each quarter. Marijuana is the most frequently detected substance, followed by crystal meth and cocaine. The lab can test for synthetic drugs, but a physician's order is needed.

"We see our clients are a little frustrated cause they suspect that it may be an issue in their workplaces and they would like to test for it," said Carl Linden of Diagnostic Laboratory Services.

Hawaii banned previously legal synthetic drugs such as Spice, K2, and bath salts in April. A federal law followed in July. For workplace testing, however, policies need to be developed for lab procedures and cutoff levels, especially with the threat of potential lawsuits from employees.

"All of the safeguards to make certain that everything is accurate and correct, we have to wait until those administrative rules, essentially, are written," explained Linden.

Greg Azus has owned Hawaii's Natural High in Waikiki for more than 30 years. He says he has never sold synthetic drugs, but manufacturers are constantly pitching their products.

"From the calls that I get at my store with people trying to sell me these products and offering me free samples, and I get these calls at least two or three times a week," Azus said.

Even with Hawaii's new law, Azus believes the substances are still being supplied.

"The manufacturers, if they crack down on them, they come up with new formulas and they change the name and it's still available, so I believe there's still shops out here selling it. It might be under the table," Azus said.

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