Mary Jane, Ganja, Cannabis, Pot… Marijuana in the WORKPLACE
2019, the year that Marijuana becomes more and more prominent, accepted and legalized in society. Marijuana has been legalized for medical use in 34 different states, 10 of which are legalized for recreational use. So, what happens when it comes to marijuana in the workplace? With the legalization at an all-time high (no pun intended) and with no signs of stopping, what do business owners do when it comes to drug testing? There are obvious downfalls in the use of marijuana and it being parallel to unproductivity, but should a positive test result in the firing or unemployment of a person?
It is important to first understand the components of marijuana and why it may be harmful, or not, for individuals in society. Marijuana comes from the plant Cannabis sativa/Indica which contains a mind-altering chemical THC alongside other compounds that have similar mind-altering aspects. Marijuana is a commonly used drug in the United States, more than half of American adults have tried marijuana at least once, and nearly 33 million currently use it, as of 2015. Since then, there is likely thousands more users considering 4 more states have legalized the drug since. This general acceptance of the drug stirs a lot of controversy as per if the drug is harmful or is not as bad as we think.
Upon trying the drug, many people think that the drug should be legal. As the legalization expands, it is going to become more and more widely accepted, leading to more people trying it and supporting it
When we compare the use of marijuana to the use of alcohol, it is seemingly worse to use alcohol regularly. Although marijuana can cause unproductivity and altered states of consciousness, it doesn’t compare to the use of alcohol regularly.
So, if there are going to be drug tests in a work environment, why shouldn’t there be alcohol testing? I mean, if someone were intoxicated arriving at work, they are putting themselves and others in harm’s way, and the altered state of consciousness drunk is debatably more unsafe than the state of consciousness high.
Marijuana causes differing levels of impairment, and people react to marijuana differently. Marijuana often causes unproductivity, but some people react to it differently. Right now, the best way of testing marijuana impairment is through oral fluid testing. It can detect recent marijuana use, however, doesn’t show what happened in the last few hours and doesn’t show the level of impairment. For alcohol testing, science tells the blood alcohol concentration which is actually measurable. Having the ability to measure the level of impairment would be a beneficial way to drug test marijuana. However, if the drug is becoming legalized state after state, is drug testing people for marijuana use really all that necessary? I mean, alcohol is a legal substance for people 21 and over and isn’t tested in the workplace, so once marijuana is legalized, shouldn’t the testing be stopped too?
If an employee ends up with a positive result from the current drug testing, it is up to whoever is in charge of a business to deal with the situation in whatever way they believe is right. Marijuana often leads to a lack of motivation both physically and mentally which might not be an attribute that an employer wants in an employee. However, it is important to take into consideration that marijuana affects all people differently.
I, personally, believe that a boss shouldn’t jump the gun and immediately fire or not employ someone for a positive result. I think if the person remains a hard worker throughout their time at the job and gets what they need to done that they should be free to do what they want to outside of work.
This brings us to the next question; Should there be designated port areas, similar to that of cigarette smoking areas?
Well, I think we are a bit early in the legalization and overall acceptance of the drug to begin making pot designated areas in a work environment. I think that there could be circumstances in which these designated areas are necessary, but not for recreation like cigarettes. I think that by having designated areas for smoking pot, it would encourage employees to engage in smoking marijuana which isn’t entirely necessary.
I think a better way to integrate pot-smoking into the workplace if a business decides that they want a designated smoking area, is to simply designate an area for smoking in general. Vape, weed, cigarettes, Jules, etc. can be smoked in this area, but only if the rules are clearly instilled by a boss. I think that having an area designated solely for marijuana will encourage that behavior, but if it is found acceptable within the business, and is legalized medically and recreationally in a state, there should be a general smoking area.
Since we are so early in the legalization of the drug, it is hard to decide how businesses are going to deal with the controversial topic. Some businesses might shut the door in the face of anyone who even mentions the word “marijuana”, whereas other businesses might accept the drug’s use recreationally with open arms.
In the next 10-20 years, the acceptance of the drug is going to become inevitably larger and larger, and the existence of designated port areas could potentially be prominent. There is no stopping the ever-growing use and acceptance of the drug, so businesses should begin to be more open to the drug.
This doesn’t go to say that the bosses should throw their work papers out the window and smoke a doobie with their co-workers, but they should become more accepting to the fact that it is a drug that is going to be legalized and will be handled in similar ways of alcohol, but likely more often amongst users.
The use of marijuana in the workplace is likely going to spark more controversy than the legalization of the drug itself. There are so many ways of handling the situation, and a lot of the decisions are going to be made by the owners of companies and the bosses of businesses. There is also a lot of other laws that need to be passed about weed in the workplace which is going to take time to pass. There are reasons why the use of marijuana in the near future is justified, from its legalization to the medical aspect, but there are also reasons why businesses tend to shy away from the drug in the workplace that is also justified.
I think that designated smoking areas will be a relevant thing in the near future, but not just upon its legalization. When the drug begins to appeal to more people than it does to today, there will be a shift in the way it is recreationally or medically used at work.
Healthwise, once the drug becomes used by more people, there will be a lot more studies and research as to how our bodies react to the drug. There will be more solid evidence as to what the long term effects are, short term effects are, how it affects our age, fertility, appearance, and so on that aren’t currently as deeply investigated.
All in all, the decision about marijuana in the workplace is in the hands in those in power, like just about everything else in society. We can learn to accept it with caution, accept it with open arms, or not accept it at all.