Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Company Culture, What HR Really Thinks

Marijuana

Don’t worry mom, marijuana is legal

 Marijuana in the workplace

Here in the state of Washington, Cannabis Sativa, aka Weed, aka Marijuana, aka Whacky Tabacky has been legalized.  From a personal perspective, I don’t smoke anything except cigars so this isn’t good or bad news to me.  I don’t have anything against the Ganja, it just never appealed to me.  Despite my lack of personal interest, I find myself involved in more marijuana conversations now that this taboo substance has recently been legalized here in my home state. Who would have ever thought that an HR guy would be discussing the option of THC in the workplace? For that matter, who would have thought a candidates mother would show up at the job interview or that employees could work from home. My how times have changed.  

Maybe I am getting asked about it because folks think that if any HR person is going to be good the burning herb in the workplace, it will be liberally minded HRNasty.  Not sure what it is, but the conversations sure are interesting, and for the record, they would be wrong. 

Amongst my small circle of friends, there are a few founders, owners and hiring managers. I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to rap with these individuals as it gives me the opportunity to hear additional data points from folks making decisions around hiring, corporate culture, vendor relationships, etc. I recently went on a road trip with a buddy who has a company and of course we went down our usual set of topics as it relates to building his company and corporate culture. His company has over 300 employees and over three quarters of them are on the manufacturing side of the house. The topic of marijuana in the workplace came up and I thought that this was a no brainer discussion. My buddy is a smart guy and he had a couple of legit concerns. Basically, he was asking me what I thought about the stoners passing around the bong around in the work place. 

My initial reaction was “Are you fricking kidding me?  Weed in the workplace?  Give me a break!”  But I used my HR training, held my tongue, and heard him out. It wouldn’t be very HR of me to unload on him before I heard him out.    

My buddy, let’s call him “Drug Pusher” moving forward has a company and he had been thinking about putting their employees through regular and random drug testing, partly because it is a manufacturing plant operating heavy machinery and partly because they thought it was the smart thing to do. Of course I let Drug Pusher know that he “should have put that drug test policy into place before the legalization of weed was passed” and laughed my ass off at his unfortunate timing Kobayashi Maru no win situation.  It’s always so fun to play quarterback HR asshole.      

I had a couple of thoughts, and although I get it is legal, I think this is common HR(Nasty) sense.

No frickin’ drugs in the workplace.  End of conversation.  I get there are prescription uppers, downers, and all-a-rounders, but two things come to mind: 

  1. This crew operates heavy machinery. 
  2. This crew interacts one-on-one with customers. If I were a customer and I was paying his crew 50.00 to 80.00 an hour per person, you can bet your ass, I don’t want to see any stoned vendors on our campus.  I don’t want to smell the ganja on anyone and I don’t want our employees having to jostle with bloodshot eyes at the vending machine for Doritos.
  3. This crew operates heavy machinery!!!! Is it just me??

OK, OK, I get it.  Some of us are on anti-depressants. Apparently with our lack of rain, Seattle has the highest percentage per capita of depressed people. 

Although anti-depressants and THC are both prescription drugs, my litmus test is as the following:

What will your customers think about any interaction with one of your employee that is high on any drug?

I know that I don’t want to buy any product or service and turn my hard earned money over to a cashier that is stoned.  Even if I am at a Marijuana dispensary and picking up a prescription I don’t want to turn my money over to someone that is stoned.

Drug Pushers argument was that if he drug tested his crew, he could easily lose 20 to 30% of his workforce.  A workforce that was highly trained, efficient and if let go from his company would probably go to a direct competitor, and work their ass of just out of spite.

He was also getting arguments from some of his leads that with Marijuana legal, recognized as a pain reliever, that it should be recognized and approved.

Sorry, no can do in the house of HRNasty.  My argument to him was hard, fast and delivers swift justice.  Alcohol is “legal” in the state of Washington, but it doesn’t mean you can come to work drunk.  Come to work drunk at any job, and you will it will be tough to defend your permanent dismissal.  This isn’t just a CLM, this is a CEM.  Career Ending Move.  I know I don’t want to fork my money over to someone for services rendered that has gin or vodka oozing from their pores.  And this is an HR asshole way of looking at it, but if someone who is getting high on company time wants to go to the competition, show them the door.  As a business owner you couldn’t do yourself a bigger favor.

At the end of the day, he has a customer facing crew, and the company paying him has a choice on who they want to deal with.   

Am I against Marijuana?  No and I am glad I don’t face this dilemma.  The heaviest machinery our crew operates is a MacBook Pro and a mouse. 

My moral with this post is that just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it is OK in the workplace and if you think showing up high because the drug is legal is OK, think again. Think about the customer.

See you at the after party,

>HRNasty

nasty:  an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. E.G.  “He has a nasty fork ball”.

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  • gander2112

    Tough one. Seems simple to me. If you are high (or drunk) on the job, and it visibly affects your work, you should get disciplined.

    Of course, there are plenty of 0 tolerance roles. Airline pilots, heavy machine operators, drivers and the like. They can’t drink on the job, and they shouldn’t toke on the job. But the difference in the retention of the metabolites is the crucial factor. I have to think that the anti-doping labs for sports could work out a more real time test for intoxication.

    But as Larry says, it is all about maturity. I enjoy a beer (or three) occasionally, and it has never impaired my work. But if I started slamming Kamikazi’s at lunch, everybody in the office would quickly figure it out.

  • Larry McKeogh

    I know, I hear it occasionally as well here in Colorado re: marijuana. What you come to realize is where the individual’s priorities lie. If their not mature enough to realize the difference between on the clock and off this might point to areas of greater concern.

    I had a past boss that found out I got 2 speeding tickets in a month off hours in a non-driving related role. He told me in no uncertain terms if he heard of another one that was it. (small town) How could he trust me to do the right thing on the job if I couldn’t do the right thing off the job. A little harsh? Not for controlling a nuclear reactor.

    My introduction to the golden rule. He who’s got the gold makes the rule. You don’t like it you know where the door is.

  • HR Gal Friday

    Obviously being high in the workplace is bad, esp if dealing with customers or machinery. What about the weekend indulgers, though? They would fail a drug test because it stays in your system for a while, but they may be at work totally sober. That’s where I’m stumped about this. I agree weed is on par with alcohol and have no problem with medical or recreational use when not at work. Until a drug test can determine if you’re high now vs. if you’ve been high this month, I think problems will arise.