I recently read this report on Workforce talking about the negative impact of marijuana on the workplace. If you know me, you know that I would meticulously read the counter-arguments to cannabis for the sake of understanding the global political environment surrounding the plant. At first, I thought the report was going to be objective. But then throughout the report I understood that the author was definitely not in favor of cannabis legalization and more importantly, “The evil pot lobby trying to take away corporate rights”.
Cannabis and the Workplace
Before we begin to dissect the opposing arguments, let’s provide some context. No one is arguing that you should be allowed to take bong rips at work. Long term cannabis consumers understand how marijuana works with their own unique organism. And they also know that “bong-ripping at work”, while it might sound fun, would be counter-productive to actually getting things done.
However, cannabis activists argue that ‘home cannabis use’ should not be a premise to lose your job, similarly to how ‘at home drinking’ is permitted within the workplace. The only time when a person should be allowed to consume cannabis within the workplace is if he or she has a medical condition that requires medication.
Cannabis works differently in people with a medical condition. This is something that prohibitionists cannot fathom. Whenever I have a physical ailment, such as pain or even a cold and I consume cannabis…I don’t get “high” in the traditional sense of the word.
The effects of cannabis on the body of a person suffering from a condition only alleviates their symptoms. The euphoria is minimal. You feel “normal”.
Pain on the other hand can seriously impair your judgement, tolerance, mood, performance. Thus, it makes more sense to give someone the opportunity to alleviate those symptoms in order to be more productive.
The Counter Argument Dissected
The entire paper on the negative effects of cannabis on the workplace aims to ‘demystify misconceptions about cannabis’ in order to prove the premise. Arguing that the ‘marijuana lobby’ is trying to deceive the public about the effects of cannabis. The author hones in on frequently used cannabis argument points and attempts to destroy them. Let’s see how he faired.
“Marijuana is Safer than Alcohol Argument”
For any cannabis activist, the notion that alcohol is a far more dangerous drug than cannabis is obvious. There are numerous studies that teach us that alcohol and violence have a direct link, that more violent crime is committed under the influence of alcohol and nearly 90k traffic fatalities as a direct result from the substance. This is not the case with cannabis.
However, the author of the study cited a NY Times article from 1990 published in Chicago entitled, “Absenteeism and Accidents In Workplace Tied to Drugs” to say that, “We found that those with marijuana-positive urine samples have 85 percent more injuries and a 78 percent increase in absenteeism,” the researchers wrote in today’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
The only problem with this source is that it’s compromised. I personally read the entire document and tried to fact check more than half of the sources within the body and found that most of it was bullshit. You must also remember that the Drug War was in full swing at that time. Numerous articles were written to reinforce a general public perception about the happenings of the Federal government, and ‘smart sounding propaganda’ always seems to do the trick.
If you’re going to make an argument, you need to have uncompromised sources. Thus we cannot take this ‘fact’ at face value. More recent data would be required and considering that cannabis has been around for a while. There is plenty of data to analyze.
“It’s easy to tell if someone is using cannabis at work Argument”
In this section, the author attempts to explain that the difficulty of knowing when someone is “using cannabis” at work is becoming more difficult. This is actually true, there are many more discreet ways to consume cannabis at work.
However, someone who is high at work will display symptoms of euphoria. If you’re truly concerned about people getting high at your workplace, by simply training some of your human resource employees methods of identifying whether someone is “high” or “getting high” at work, there are plenty of them available.
Obviously, there is no need for a witch hunt either. I can almost certainly tell when someone is high, even if they are wearing Visine. Speech patterns, references, behavior…it’s all there…you just need to know how to see it. If you don’t want people to be high at work, just provide some more training.
“The Potency of Pot Argument”
I hear this several times from prohibitionists. The pot is way more potent. And while this isn’t technically true, it is easier to find higher grade cannabis these days. However, while this is true it still has no real relevance to workplace behavior.
People who smoke cannabis for a long time know when to smoke and when not to smoke. Nobody likes the onset of a high in a stressful environment. Additionally, with more potent cannabis you require less to smoke. Perhaps a hit or two is more than enough, whereas the old-school brick weed at least required smoking a half a joint.
People also know what moderation is. Sometimes you just want to take the edge off, you don’t want to get baked. If you’re working, you definitely don’t want to be zonked out of your mind.
“Corporate Rights to Discipline Cannabis Users Argument”
His final argument comes down to the company’s ability to fire a cannabis user if they test positive for cannabis. A company definitely has the right to fire an employee if they are caught consuming cannabis on the premises. If the company has strict rules in place, they are within their full right.
If you find that someone is not-impaired or using on the premises, continues to deliver solid work and then fire that person because they tested positive for a join they smoked over the weekend? In that case, no a company shouldn’t have a right to fire the individual.
As long as an employee’s performance measures up with their peers, whatever they do in the comfort of their own homes should be their responsibility and of no interest to the company. Only when use directly affects productivity while ‘on the job’, a company should have a say in the life of their employee.
It seems to me that the author wants to give more rights to corporations, who are already being treated like “people”. They have “People rights” but I digress.
The point being, there is no real evidence that cannabis consumption makes people ‘less productive’. If you own a company, and your employee is a cannabis consumer yet still delivers stellar work…why the hell would you ever think of firing him. If it you are not broke…do not fix it.