Cannabis, also known as ‘marijuana or weed’ (among other names), is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant used primarily for medical and recreational purposes (Wikipedia)
In the above statement, ‘recreational purposes’ is a subtle way of saying, ‘getting high’!
Insights on Cannabis, the medicinal & recreational drug:-
- Nomenclature: There are over 200 slang terms for Marijuana, including pot, herb, weed, grass, widow, boom, ganja, hash, Mary Jane, Cannabis, bubble gum, northern lights, fruity juice, gangster, Afghani #1, skunk, and chronic.
- Drug Class: Marijuana is often classified as a depressant, although it also has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.
- Common Side Effects: Side effects of marijuana use include altered senses, mood changes, difficulty in thinking, and impaired memory. High doses can lead to hallucinations, psychosis, and delusions.
While it is still illegal to possess or consume Cannabis in most nations, there are also countries across the world passing laws for either legalizing or decriminalizing the use of Cannabis. For example, Cannabis has been legal in Canada since the fall of 2018. It is slowly becoming legal in the US, state by state (11 states have already legalized Cannabis).
(Here is the country-wise list – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis)
Therefore, it is not a surprise when a recent national study revealed 17.5% of Canadians aged 15 and older used Cannabis at least once in the last three months. A few (about 6%) use Cannabis most days.
How does this affect your workplace?
‘Cannabis use’ and ‘work’ may seem like the two most disassociating terms put together. As an employer, you become liable to protect and safeguard your employees and provide them a safe working environment. It is also imperative to keep up with the evolving country/state laws. When it comes to something as sensitive as Cannabis, it is no doubt that the organization needs to enforce stringent workplace rules to ensure 100% safety of its larger employee population.
Here’s debunking a few “myths “surrounding Cannabis that masks its correct use (for fun :D)
Myth#1 – Cannabis Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Fact: The subduing effects of Marijuana may initially make users feel less anxious and stressed. However, some individuals may also experience a rebound effect of increased anxiety after the drug wears off.
Myth#2 – Cannabis Makes You Peaceful
Fact: While weed often temporarily subdue users (and can even decrease energy and Vigor after long-term use), it does not necessarily reduce aggression.
Myth#3 – Cannabis is a medicine, so it does not cause harm
Fact: Cannabis is similar to other drugs & prescription medicines; it can be both helpful and harmful. (Consider the list of side effects that come with some prescription medications).
While it isn’t impossible to detect Marijuana, it is much more difficult to detect than alcohol, and hence, it is advised to maintain a zero-tolerance policy. However, like said earlier, organizations must adopt and adapt to the ever-changing laws.
Given below are few aspects worth giving considerable thought when it comes to Cannabis and your workplace–
- Cannabis at Work – While maintaining a zero-tolerance policy is good, employers operating in countries that legalize/decriminalize the use of Cannabis need to be prepared to have employees who are allowed and required to consume Cannabis for medical purposes. Ensure the employees present valid prescriptions and submit a doctor’s report stating the employee is using Cannabis in prescribed quantity only and not over-dosing to get high. Work with your legal team to include such exceptions in your HR policies customized to each state/ country the organization is operating in.
- Manager Discretion – The managers should know that team members are permitted to consume Cannabis for medical purposes. The managers should be trained on aspects like the company’s policies on cannabis usage, prescribed quantity allowed, strict monitoring of the employees’ performance.
- Health Coverage – With more countries legalizing the use of Cannabis for medical purposes, employers may sooner or later be required to cover it as part of their health coverage. We say start sooner. It is advised to work with their insurance provider on setting a list of diseases or conditions to avoid any confusion. It can offer a well-defined reimbursement process for its employees. This not only keeps you ahead of the curve but also as an employee-friendly organization.
- Travel Policies – Cannabis intake to be considered legal only if an employee has acquired it from the country that legally provides it to the outsiders. Many countries might consider it legal for their natives, but cannabis grown locally might be illegal to take for foreigners, which is the case in Uruguay. However, it is legal in Uruguay for local citizens to grow cannabis after permission, but buying is prohibited for foreigners. So, any employee traveling to Uruguay should be made fully aware of the act of acquiring cannabis from such a country and the illegality behind it.
- Background Screening Policies – It’s the Organization’s utmost responsibility to update their background screening form to include questions on the use of Cannabis for medical purposes. The background screening process must include: having new employees submit medical proof of medically required cannabis intake, which later should be verified by the prescribing doctor.
- Drug Test – Conducting periodic surprise drug tests is another good way of maintaining strict workplace discipline. This should be included as part of your HR policies and keep employees aware of it.
The Bottom Line
Creating a supportive culture and open communication among people is the foundation of a healthy workplace. Cannabis legalization might be an opportunity to reflect on workplace culture by allowing employees to see the supportive action on managements’ part towards their teams’ health and habits.
On this note, Employees must stand true to their duty–by keeping only their “productivity high instead of getting themselves high”!