There is this idea that with the legalization of marijuana at the national level, the workforce will slowly implode, bringing about financial ruin to any country that dares charter this path. It is old school reefer madness at its finest, the concept that unleashing a plant from the confines of prohibition past could somehow be such a detriment to the overall motivation of society that working-class people would just give up on their responsibilities, drag their families into the gutters and live out the rest of their days, broke, stoned and unable to rise above the temptations of the day. Of course, all of this jibber-jabber is just, in the immortal words of a 20th-century poet by the name of Cosmo Kramer, cookie talk. Marijuana legalization has not brought about the demise of social order, nor has it contributed to any fallout at work, a new study finds.
Researchers with the human resources software company Ipsos in association with ADP Canada, recently conducted an online survey in hopes of learning more about how the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada has impacted the workforce. While early predictions showed that legal weed might cause an uprising in call ins, tardiness and overall piss-poor productivity, the results show that none of that has happened. An impressive 74% of the respondents, all of which were Canadian workers 18 and older, said that legal weed has had absolutely no impact on productivity, while 71% claimed there has been no increase in absenteeism.
In other words, it’s business as usual in the northern nation even with adults having the freedom to smoke weed in their downtime.
“The expectation was that there would be a huge impact on the workplace, and yet the data shows this time around that it’s much, much smaller than we anticipated,” Hendrik Steenkamp, HR advisory director for ADP Canada, told CBC. “I think that Canadians are very good, law-abiding citizens, and I think they have respect for the workplace.”
But that doesn’t mean employers were not in a wild-eyed panic before the launch of retail pot sales. There were concerns that more workers were going to start showing up at the job buzzed, bringing about a wealth of safety issues that most companies were clueless how to contend with.
In some cases, industry leaders were pushing for the government to implement a zero-tolerance policy with respect to pot use in the workplace. “Just like you wouldn’t let your technicians go out at lunch and come back after having consumed alcohol, we don’t believe cannabis should be treated differently than that,” said John White, president of the Canadian Automobile Dealer Association.
No doubt, employers were expecting the worst from legal marijuana, but none of those fears ever came to fruition, explains employment lawyer Nadia Halum Arauz of MacLeod Law Firm in Toronto. She argues that Canadian workers were already using cannabis ahead of legalization, so not much has changed since the new law took effect. “The reality is, I think, a lot people consumed cannabis regularly already,” she said, “and so legalization probably didn’t have too much of an impact on their current practices. It makes sense to me that the impact hasn’t been high as people were fearing it to be.”
Still, this doesn’t mean that employers are all of a sudden OK with cannabis use at work. That’s not even the case. In fact, 86% of the respondents said that getting high was something that is not permitted in their workplace. Stealing a page from “The Guide to Drinking Booze and Keeping a Job” (not a real book, by the way), the idea is that marijuana consumption is something that should be enjoyed after the day is done. But many believe the herb should have absolutely no place before clocking in or on the job. And that goes for some professions more than others. For example: The airline companies have all imposed bans on cannabis user for their pilots, flight attendants and mechanics. Most companies, however, are content with their workers just not showing up stoned.
But most employers are still struggling to relay cannabis policies to their workers. The survey finds that company policies surrounding cannabis use are not exactly clear. Not even management is confident about the rules associated with legal weed in the workplace. This, according to Steenkamp, is one of the most pressing challenges that companies face when coming to terms with legal weed.
“Organizations need to be very clear on what are the expectations to both leadership teams and employees when it comes to substance abuse in the workplace,” he told the news source. “If they haven’t put those policies in place or amended their existing policies, it’s not too late to do that.”
TELL US, have you ever been high at work?