© Nyaaka5 | Dreamstime.com
Dreamstime L 273035839 644150094198b

Marijuana and the Workplace: A Timely and Timeless Debate

April 20, 2023
This 4/20, let’s take a look at the changing legal landscape and attitudes toward cannabis.

It’s the 20th of April, and at some point in time, 4/20 has became synonymous with marijuana consumption. In fact, it’s the single biggest sales day of the year for cannabis dispensaries.

So, regardless of what your personal opinions are, what your company’s drug policy is and even the legality in your state, it’s fair to say that some of your employees will be thinking of, talking about or making plans to celebrate the holiday.

Cannabis consumption is something you may not revel in discussing. But the reality is, over one-third of the population lives in a state where cannabis is legal in some form. Adults can legally buy or possess marijuana for recreational and medical purposes in 21 states and Washington, D.C. Another 17 states have programs for only medical marijuana purposes.

Efforts to legalize marijuana have so far failed at the national level, but they continue to pass at a state level. And based on Americans’ attitudes about marijuana, it’s only a matter of whennot ifthat will change.

An overwhelming majority of adults say that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use (59%) or that it should be legal for medical use only (30%), according to an October 2022 Pew Research Center survey. Only 10% of respondents say marijuana should not be legal in any form.

Pew found that support for legalization varies by demographic. Still, this statistics suggests there’s no going back to the days of Reefer Madness: 30% of adults aged 75 and older say marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, while 72% of those aged 18-29 say the good leaf should be legal.

Marijuana does cause side effects beyond the yakked about munchies and red eyes, so it’s important to continue to make sure employees are safe and unimpaired on the clock. There are safety-sensitive industries where a zero-tolerance policy is still needed.

But for many other industries and employers, drafting a good drug policy for potential and current workers can be challenging. That’s even more true if workers are legally allowed to consume cannabis off the clock. Compounding the drug testing quandary is the fact that marijuana can be detected in a person’s system long after the high from lighting up wears off.  

As with most things in life, there are no easy answers about how to proceed. We can only turn to the latest regulations and rulings as well as our peers to see how others are navigating these murky waters. In June 2021, Amazon announced that it would adjust its pre-employment drug policy and would no longer screen for marijuana for many roles. The nation’s second largest private employer issued a statement about its decision, and one of those reasons was that “eliminating pre-employment testing for cannabis allows us to expand our applicant pool.”

Typically, the law lags a good several years behind current trends. Cannabis usage is no exception.

It’s difficult to believe just how fast things have changed, but Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize recreational usage—in 2012. Those discussions are continuing at the state and federal level. It also seems discussions about CBD, Delta 8 and hemp are just heating up.

EHS Today will continue to provide you the latest news and analysis on cannabis and hemp usage.

For now, perhaps today is a timely opportunity to reiterate your company’s current policy and to emphasize how cannabis affects the body, which could threaten worker safety. To that end, here are some recent stories from EHS Today you may wish to peruse:

About the Author

Nicole Stempak

Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!