How are the latest governmental policies dictating the legal usage of cannabis in the workplace?
Cannabis is still not a socially acceptable substance. I am not aware of any regulations in the state of Colorado or California that allow people to consume cannabis in the workplace. As a matter of fact, there are more companies that are still very actively trying to find out how to detect cannabis usage early with breathalyzers and other testing methods. I do not believe the regulations are meant to open the adult use of cannabis products in the workplace. I do believe the regulations are more meant to prevent that from happening, so that, for example, a pilot in Denver who may think that because it is a legal substance in their state, they can get stoned and fly a plane. I believe the regulations are more meant to maintain the power of reason and a general understanding that you cannot be sedated or under the influence of any drugs or alcohol if you are conducting certain work.
Now, does that mean a landscaping pro might be stoned while working on lawns in a neighborhood somewhere? That is a good possibility. But there is also a good possibility that the same landscaping pro was stoned 15 years ago when it was illegal to smoke in the state of Colorado. I truly do not see how the regulations will affect the actual adult use in the workplace. I think clarification on the use will be required, so people will not get the wrong idea. Another idea that needs to be addressed is an organized format where people can get together to use cannabis. I think using marijuana in the workplace will not be a standard way of behaving, just like how drinking is not a norm. However, people are known to have extra libation with their lunch on occasion. So, we will see how it develops.
What can business managers/owners do and not do? What can employees do and not do?
In our industry, if a person working in our field has a medicinal card and he is using cannabis for his condition, we are looking at it from the standpoint where as long as you don’t consume it in front of our faces and as long as you have the courtesy of medicating inconspicuously or without bringing too much attention to it, we have a softer policy regarding the use of cannabis. That is our policy. Now, we have people who work on machinery and perform some duties that are connected to extraction and packaging, where there is more potential danger of trauma involved. These people are not allowed to consume cannabis while they are performing their work duties. So, I would assume that proper common sense should be applied.
Now, nowhere in our operational manual does it state that it is okay to be stoned at work because we are not looking at it as a recreational product. Instead, we are looking at it in the same respect where if anybody has a medical condition for which he is using cannabis, telling this person they cannot use cannabis at work would be just the same as telling a guy to not bring his inhaler or Aspirin to work. I cannot do that. I can find another employee, but even with that, I don’t believe that him being on this particular medication can be a reason for terminating him. That is not what we’re all about. I think that clarifying and educating the workplace is the role of the manager or owner. It’s important for each particular company to very clearly explain what their expectation is. They need to clarify how soft or hard their policy on cannabis is. Again, that is the role of the management. For everyone else, I think common-sense rules should apply. You are not supposed to consume any mind-altering substances when you engage in activity that can potentially hurt you or, worse than that, other people.
How has this all changed business practices with the legal cannabis issue?
At Honest Marijuana Company, our Head Grower maintains 7-10 people who hand-trim cannabis. A majority of these people are experienced cannabis users, and a majority of them have a medical card. When they’re spending their 7-hour workday manicuring the weed plants and listening to music while doing so, we personally are not particularly concerned about the fact that they might have exaggerated levels of THC in their bloodstreams, especially if it helps them with the condition for which they have a medical card. If the person is engaged in the transportation of the goods or in packaging using the machinery, or blunt-rolling or extraction, obviously these people should be considered to be treated just like the pilot in the previous example. We want them to be as safe as possible and to perform the best, most stellar job possible.
Our product is the face of our company, so our customers don’t see us. They see what we do. We obviously want them to be very fond of what it is that we do and come back. It is very important that the customer sees what we do in the best possible light. If that means that the person who packages the product and puts it together or makes it needs to stay sober during his working day? I don’t see any difference in how it was during the prohibition time in the state. Even if you were consuming cannabis before it became legal, you probably had the common sense to not be stoned in your boss’s presence. You probably had Visine and something for your breath to clear up that predicament. So, again, common knowledge and common sense apply.
How are companies handling these changes within their industry?
We’ve never had to discuss an option and never had to speak about cannabis because we don’t speak about any other illegal substances. We don’t have a rule in our operational manual about the consumption of opioids or mushrooms or some other mind-altering substances, simply because they are illegal and we expect our employees to be legal, tax-paying, working citizens. As cannabis becomes legal, to clear up the misunderstanding and to avoid consumers trying to push these newfound freedoms to the new extreme, where they think they can be blasted or stoned from morning until night just because it is legal in their state, I’m sure some regulations will be inserted and explained in employee handbooks. That is just common sense. If there is something new on the market that you have the legal right to consume as an adult, we want to state that one way or another, we are not really fond of you consuming it during the working hours.
When you’re working for us on our payroll, we want to make sure that we are getting the best out of you as an employee. It’s a simple request–we want to pay you your salary, you agree to collect that salary, and we expect you to give us the best effort. If that is impossible to achieve using cannabis, even if you have a medicinal prescription, you might not be the right person for me to select. We do ask if people have a medicinal card or not as a part of our work interview. This is not something that we make our decisions upon. We just want to make sure that if the person has certain medical conditions, we need to be aware of them in case something were to happen, just like we might want to know if a person might potentially need an insulin injection. We need to know what to do if something is wrong with him. For any company, I’m sure. It is very important that it is as safe and prudent operating work environment as can be. The only thing that these companies have to do now is just incorporate cannabis into their rules and regulations, clearly outlining their policies.
Serge Chistov is a cannabis industry expert and Chief Financial Partner with Honest Marijuana Co. Honest Marijuana has been a leader in cannabis innovation since it’s inception with an organic approach to the growth, production and packaging of cannabis, the launch of the first-ever organic hemp wrapped machine rolled blunts, the invention of the now patented Nanobidiol Technology, and the first company to bring THC-O-Acetate technology and products to market.