But while the recently-published study concluded that the growing cannabis industry had “an imminent need to establish formal health and safety training to implement best practices,” the idea that marijuana use need be entirely separate from marijuana businesses is not universally agreed upon.
Working with volatile chemicals or dangerous machinery while under the influence of any intoxicant can obviously create both legal and safety concerns, but for employees working in lower stakes social or computer-based professions, cannabis has the power to act as a performance enhancer instead of diminisher.
“My first shift was with a cashier who smoked, too,’ Hector, a retail associate at CVS, said about a co-workers cannabis use. “I noticed because the whole first half of the shift he was very fidgety, kept looking at the clock, and he seemed out of place. After his break he was happy and pretty efficient.”
Even before Centennial State voters tipped the first adult-use legalization domino in 2012, employee cannabis use has been a contentious topic in the American workplace. Because traces of the drug stay in users endocannabinoid system for up to months after last use, not to mention how individuals each react differently to the plant, measuring marijuana intoxication has always been guesswork at best. Although that may make sense for extract producers or commercial distributors, the same comparison cannot be made on the retail side. Speaking from personal experience in New York City’s highly competitive bartending industry, employees are routinely encouraged and often required to sample the alcohol they are serving, a situation far more similar to that of a budtender puffing a vaporizer on break, than a brewmaster attempting to expertly measure hops while drunk off a few lunchtime pints.
Colorado’s groundbreaking 2012 cannabis reform law did call for the state to “Legalize marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol,” but to regulate the controversial plant like booze, a significant amount of scientific research is still needed – a prospect that remains out of reach as long as federal prohibition continues.