Are Your Employees Stoned at Work?

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Cannabis consumption is nothing new. Neither is the call for full legalization in the United States.

What is new, however, is how it’s becoming normalized throughout society. In cities within states where recreational weed was decriminalized it’s not uncommon to encounter that telltale scent as people go about their day.

A particularly “loud” strain may cause eyebrow raises but only for a moment. The eyebrows return to their assigned seats and people move on. In decriminalized states, smelling weed while driving around and running errands is the new normal.

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It has become such a regular occurrence and topic of casual conversation that the responsible-use advocates NORML’s acronym seems more relevant than ever before. And it begs the question: Has marijuana use become so normalized that American employees are high at work?

A survey of 1,000 employed people conducted by Remedy Review has revealed more than just the short answer: Yes. They’ve also determined which industries have the most high-flying employees.

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Before we get to the top 5 stoned industries, let’s review how many survey respondents have worked while high. According to Remedy Review, 15.7 percent of American workers have been while working. Not high after their shift, “this refers to being high while actually on the job.” As Remedy Review says, as more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, it can be assumed that number will rise.

Of that nearly 16 percent of stoned employees, the most respondents—31.1 percent—admitted they had been high at work “a few times per year.” Just over 19 percent said they had been high at work “a few times per week,” while 16 percent answered, “a few times per month.” The fewest respondents—6.7 percent—had been high at work every other day.

It’s obvious where this is headed: Of the 16 percent of American employees, how many were high every day at work? Almost 27 percent. That’s a little over a quarter of the 16 percent who said they had been high at work, or more than four percent of the American workforce. Eleven percent of those respondents said that they got high before they arrived at work.

According to Remedy Review, in just 5 years the number of people who have been high at work has increased by 60 percent. That’s pretty risky considering about half of all employers in the United States administer mandatory drug tests. It’s worth noting that a company can enforce a zero-tolerance policy to marijuana use in the workplace regardless of legalization at the state or federal level.

What reasons did respondents give for being high at work? What motivated them, particularly those who work for employers who test for drugs? The reasons respondents gave may not be what most people would assume. While coping with various aspects of their work—demands of the job (28.7 percent), coworkers (22.7 percent), handling workplace distractions (18.7 percent), management (18 percent), and deadlines (18 percent)—certainly made the list, it wasn’t the top reason.

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The number-one reason respondents gave for being high at work was that it boosted their productivity. That’s what 38 percent said motivated them to be high on the job. This answer was followed closely by 36 percent saying it helped pass the time. Unfortunately, 9.3 percent said it was because they didn’t care about their job. Yikes.

Their bosses would need to chime in, but 60 percent of respondents claimed that being stoned had no impact on their productivity. A little over 23 percent said it boosted their productivity, and just 16.7 percent admitted they were less productive when high at work.

So, which industry has the most stoned employees? Tied for fifth place are the legal field and those in marketing and advertising at 19 percent of their workers. Telecommunications comes in fourth place, with 24 percent of their employees saying they’ve been high at work. The number of artists comfortable with admitting to their pot use makes it no surprise that arts, entertainment and recreation is in third place with 25 percent. Number two is construction at 32 percent, so fingers crossed that weed helps tradespeople, architects and designers measure two or more times before cutting once.

The industry with the most employees high on the job is hospitality. Thirty-five percent of the workforce has been stoned while doing their jobs. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, hotels… As Remedy Review says, our industry is “the biggest culprit of on-site pot consumption by far.” While operators, managers and team members have been learning how to deal with weed tourists and stoned guests in general, they now must contend with how to handle high employees.

Will operators shrug it off, not worrying that someone on their team is dropping off burgers or making an Aperol Spritz while stoned? Or will they come down hard on high employees, citing the dangers lurking in kitchens, behind bars, and throughout the backs of house in hotels? What about just the importance of getting orders correct? If more than 80 percent of workers say they’re productivity isn’t affected negatively, does it matter? If an employee gets hurt on the job while stoned, how can that affect the business owner?

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By the way, 5.7 percent in the medical and healthcare field were high on the job. So, hey, not even 6 percent of medical professionals have been stoned at work! Of course, another way to view that is, “Holy shit—almost 6 percent of medical professionals have been stoned at work!”

Maybe the answer for how the hospitality industry should treat these findings lies somewhere between the two perceptions above.

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