A couple of decades back, being in possession of cannabis would land you in big trouble. That’s because the substance was classified as a schedule 1 drug alongside other drugs like heroin and LSD. The general perception was that using marijuana has negative side effects and was a gateway drug to other stronger substances.
However, there has been more research looking at the effects of cannabis in different regards. Countless studies highlighted the positive effects of marijuana use. These include ameliorating pain, nausea, PTSD, cancer, glaucoma, and much more. Consequently, this led to significant changes in how the drug is perceived.
Over the last few years, marijuana has been legalized for medical and recreational use and is quickly becoming one of the most used drugs in the United States and many other countries. This change of perception and widespread use means someone (maybe many people) you know is likely using marijuana, either for medical or recreational purposes.
Marijuana legalization and the workforce
According to a study published in the Society Human Resource Management Journal, over two-thirds of the workforce is in favor of marijuana legalization and use. This clashes with the current employers’ drug test that screens for various substances, including cannabis.
With the cannabis legalization trend on the rise, new policies are needed to monitor what substances should be included in a drug test. Currently, employees with authorized medical marijuana use are exempt from the ramifications of testing positive for the drug test.
What effect does marijuana have on your staff?
Marijuana is classified as a drug as it has physiological effects when ingested. Consequently, any employee regularly using cannabis or cannabinoid products will experience these effects. Some of the notable physiological effects of marijuana use are:
- Reduces pains and aches
- Alleviates nausea and vomiting
- Causes short-term memory problems
- Slows reaction time
- Relaxes the body and mind
- Reduces stress and anxiety
While research on how marijuana affects you have greatly progressed, there are still challenges to conducting these studies and research. As such, many employers have internal policies on marijuana use. Some professions are arguably more tolerant of marijuana use compared to others.
In many cases, modern jobs like those in the tech industry are more tolerant of cannabis use compared to traditional jobs. The generational shift of the workforce to include a younger workforce will likely influence the future of marijuana use in the future.
Does cannabis use affect employee output?
An employer’s bottom line is driven by having a productive workforce. Employers who view marijuana use as a deterrent either discourage the use or create policies to prohibit use. At the federal level, marijuana is still an illegal drug. Many employers set in-house policies to manage the use and perception of marijuana.
General studies reveal marijuana can have a negative effect on aspects like short-term memory and attention span. Admittedly, additional studies are needed to shed more light on the effects of marijuana use. As such, most employers will stick to setting internal guidelines.
Should a company continue to not hire, or terminate an employee who is a cannabis user?
In the past, failing a drug test for cannabis meant termination for many employees. This may no longer be appropriate for many companies. In this author’s opinion, most companies shouldn’t be terminating people because they use cannabis outside of work. But, if they come to work high, you should consider sending them home with a warning. If they do it more than once, you might have more severe consequences, including termination. Of course, there might be certain industries and job functions that need to enforce strict restrictions on the use of cannabis. We’re not suggesting they change. But for most jobs, employers may want to rethink their policies.
As seen above, marijuana use and legalization are rising trends and the perception of cannabis use is gradually shifting. This implies current and future generations are much more likely to be using cannabinoid products. With more states legalizing marijuana use, employers need to address how to tackle the issue.
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