DISCLOSURE: The following article is based solely on my opinion. It is not an advice article. Nor is it intended to be used as permission to violate workplace rules and expectations. The content below is, however, intended to provoke philosophical discussion related to the topic at hand.
Is it ever okay to consume cannabis on the job?
Yes, but not in every vocation. For example, you should not consume cannabis if your job requires laser-focus, quick reflexes, and/or other attentive behaviors that are intended to promote safety. That includes, but is not limited to jobs in construction, working as an electrician, driving for a rideshare or transportation service, making sandwiches at Arby’s (more on this later), etc. Basically, any job that is physically dangerous with or without the presence of cannabis.
Now, there may be some employers or HR representatives reading this right now who are hissing at their screen or sucking air through their teeth at the mere thought of an employee consuming cannabis during the workday. But I’d like to invite everyone to take a deep breath and relax because I don’t think it’s as bad as some may think.
To determine whether or not your workplace is an appropriate environment for the responsible consumption of cannabis, ask yourself the questions discussed below.
Do you perform dangerous tasks, work with hazardous materials, and/or operate a vehicle or heavy machinery?
If you answered yes, then my answer is no: you should not consume cannabis at work.
Cannabis is known to impair judgment and response to stimuli. If you perform dangerous tasks, work with hazardous materials, and/or operate a vehicle or heavy machinery, consuming cannabis at work puts yours, your co-workers’, and (if applicable) an innocent bystander’s health and safety at risk. In certain situations, your impaired actions might even cause a fatal injury. It just isn’t worth the risk.
Does your employer allow employees to partake in day-drinking at the office?
If you answered yes, in my opinion, you should feel free to consume cannabis in moderation.
When I worked at Amazon.com, several teams had either a mini fridge and/or a filing cabinet where they stored their personal supply of beer, hard cider, and/or hard liquor. Some people would drink during lunch and return to their desks feeling a little tipsy; others would simply have a beer or hard cider while they worked away at their computers. Once, when a group of contractors was being moved to a new project, I brought homemade lavender lemonade and a bottle of tequila for the going away party. The only feedback I received was that the lemonade was delicious and I should make more in the future.
Another former employer of mine, also a tech company but one that shall remain unnamed for privacy reasons, purchased hard apple cider for the office to help our team celebrate a successful relocation. We didn’t finish all of the cider, so we were encouraged to finish it off. Of course, they reminded us to imbibe responsibly but were encouraged to drink the remaining alcohol nonetheless.
While neither company actively promoted day-drinking, nor were they expecting their employees to get drunk in the office, both companies did encourage responsible drinking as a means of celebrating a hard day’s work.
If you work in a setting similar to Amazon, or any other large tech company to be honest, then I believe responsible consumption should be allowed as long as recreational cannabis is legal in your state.
Are you solely responsible for the health and wellness of a vulnerable human-being?
Vulnerable human-beings include — but may not be limited to: children (period); medical patients; adults with mental and/or psychological impairments; elderly adults who depend on you for medical, physical, and/or mental support; and any other person (child or adult) who require your full-attention to ensure their safety.
If your job makes you responsible for the health and wellness of a vulnerable person or group of people, then you should not consume cannabis on the job. And I can give you a really good example of why it would be a bad idea.
When my husband was still able to consume cannabis safely, we got really baked and made spaghetti for dinner. While we were eating, a large chunk of cooked hamburger meat got lodged in his throat. He told me later that he stopped breathing at one point and the edges of his vision started going black. Somehow he was able to make himself vomit and it dislodged the meat; allowing him to start breathing again.
But where was I during this incident? Sitting on the couch, stoned and freaking out. I’ve been certified for CPR in the past. I know how to do the Heimlich Maneuver. Not at that moment, though. At that moment, fear glued me to the couch and I thought I was going to watch my husband die in the kitchen. I was relieved when I heard him throw up and take a giant gasp for air. It meant he was breathing again.
That was one of the most terrifying nights of my life. He could have died and I wasn’t even in a workplace setting where it was my occupational responsibility to take care of him. I can’t imagine the guilt of having that happen to someone I was hired to protect!
What if none of these jobs cover what I do at work?
If you’re still not sure, then there is a really good way to decide whether or not consuming cannabis is safe in your workplace. Ask yourself this question: if your medical provider prescribed a medication that makes you drowsy or dizzy, would you feel comfortable taking it at work?
If you answered no, then you should not consume cannabis at work. Instead, you should look into CBD-only solutions. CBD does not have an intoxicating effect and should be safe to consume at work. It is possible that a high enough dose of CBD could make you tired, so be sure to do tests at-home before you risk over-dosing while you’re at work.