Marijuana in the Workplace – How to Prepare as a Business Owner
There will come a point in time when cannabis is legal at a national and even international level. For many business owners, this could provide some challenges. This is especially true for bigger corporate entities.
These large businesses have many different elements they need to balance, including workplace safety, liability issues and so forth.
In a perfect world, they would treat cannabis consumption similar to alcohol consumption in the workplace. In other words, “Smoke all you want in your own time, don’t be stoned at work”. This is a fair treatment when it comes to recreational substances.
The business has a right to have a “drug free workplace”, however that should never extend to “at home drug use”, which is currently how it’s rigged. Currently, even if you decide to smoke a joint in the comfort of your own home and test positive for THC on a random drug test – y’fired!
However, drink as much as 20 frat boys in a single weekend and nothing will happen to you. Sure, you’ll be hungover and probably won’t perform as well, but you won’t get fired over it. In fact, your boss will probably be joking with you, “One too many this weekend ey?”
Yet, as cannabis is currently still an illicit substance on a federal level, the rules are far murkier than with alcohol. Thus, in order to assist business owners on the issue of cannabis and the workplace, I have drawn up this article to showcase some general ground rules.
The fact that someone tests “positive” for THC doesn’t mean they are high. This is something that current Drug Tests fail at miserably. THC can stay in your system for up to 90 days after consumption. This means someone could have smoked a joint a week ago, and it would still show up positive in a drug test.
The thing you want to be looking at is “impairment”. Is your worker sitting there with thick red eyes and smells like a Pepe Le Pew, then odds are that they consumed cannabis recently. Most cannabis users will find a way to work around this by either using eye drops, vaporizers or other means of consumption.
In these cases, judge them based on their performance. If an employee is working significantly poorer and you suspect them of being “high on the job”, then you can speak to them about this offense. However, it still doesn’t constitute being fired over.
In addition, it’s important to understand that not all businesses require a “no drug policy”. Marketing firms, anything within the creative industry, computer programming, and so forth all should have a high tolerance for cannabis use.
Coders like to smoke weed because looking at a screen for eight hours a day calculating lines of code can become quite stressful. Many find that smoking cannabis helps them to relax and they can actually write code faster.
Thus, the type of job should be the big indicator on whether or not cannabis should be allowed, tolerated or banned.
Jobs that SHOULDN’T Tolerate Cannabis Use
There are certain “high risk” jobs that would require sobriety as the base state. Things involving heavy machinery, dangerous situations, rescue efforts and other jobs that involve a high level of alertness, should not tolerate “being high” at work.
Similarly, medical professionals and educators should in all likeliness also be “not included” in the “on-job” cannabis consumption debate. However, this doesn’t mean that “on their own time” they should also be banned from consumption.
Hell, after doing these stressful activities, a joint might be the best thing for them to align themselves and let go of the bad stress in their lives. One could argue it could make them perform better at work.
Jobs that shouldn’t care about cannabis consumption
The rest of the jobs, Tech, communications, and so forth, should have no qualms with cannabis use. Of course, as a business owner you have the right to request that your employees maintain a sober state during work hours, but what they do when they are off the clock should be entirely their decisions.
As mentioned, impairment is the key factor and to judge the level of impairment, you need to evaluate the performance of your employees. Once you have a base line for performance, you can then calculate if the employee has been “doing better, worse or the same” at their jobs.
If you suspect that cannabis is to blame, then you can talk to your employee. Let them know that their performance has been lacking and that if it persists it could lead to issues. If cannabis is responsible for their performance issues, they would in most cases opt from not using it during work hours. If they don’t, and their performance continues to decline…then you have grounds for termination based on performance, and not their personal habits.
What about Medical?
Here’s where it gets tricky. Some people use medical cannabis. This means that to ease their suffering they need to consume cannabis on premise. Once more, if it’s not a high risk environment, then it shouldn’t cause a problem.
People who consume medical cannabis aren’t “getting high”. They are alleviating symptoms that will allow them to perform better. In the case of medical cannabis, performance metrics would increase with on site consumption.
Obviously, every business owner has a right to establish the work conditions for their employees, however it’s important to understand that cannabis will only become more prevalent in society. Having a clear outline of how to engage with your employees when it comes to cannabis consumption is key to running a business in the future.