One of the most common phrases used in the workplace today is: “What, are you high?” It can be spewed in jest or as a snappy comeback, like “Man, piss off, you must be stoned.” It can also be applied in the form of an insult or as a catty means for backstabbing cohorts, perhaps something to the effect of “that idiot was definitely smoking something before he clocked in this morning.” Regardless of how it is utilized, however, the cold hard fact is, like or not, everyone you grind it out with, in this day and age – doesn’t matter if they are white collar or blue — isactually high on drugs, especially marijuana, according to a new report from Quest Diagnostics.
It is true, as we enter the final stretch to the 420
But for the business owner reading this, thinking “Geez, I can’t believe that my entire team is stoned out of their gourds,” don’t get too nervous about it. The good news is while there might be more workers showing up for their shift following a reefer chiefing ritual, fewer seem to be involved in hard drugs — and that’s a good thing. Quest’s research shows that while marijuana use is up, even among those holding down positions where one mistake could mean death and destruction for many, like airline pilots and nuclear power plant operators, drug tests revealing traces of cocaine, heroin and even some prescription opioids are lower than they have been in the past.
Pot use is up, researchers say, because now it’s just normal.
“Marijuana use is on the rise in society, so it’s not surprising that we’re starting to see that filter into the workplace,” Dr. Barry Sample, Quest’s senior director for science and technology, told the Wall Street Journal.
Now, before this story causes companies around the United States to suffer a conniption fit that launches a drug testing rampage on their workers unlike anything ever seen before, we should clarify that the results of the latest study do not necessarily mean that more workers today are showing up to work high.
All the data suggests is that there are more marijuana users in the workforce than there has been in a long time. And since marijuana metabolizes in the body in a way that is unpredictable — someone who used marijuana a month ago could still test positive for THC metabolites — the increase in positive drug tests is more than likely just a product of increased legalization efforts across the nation than an indicator that employees just don’t give a sh*t. So, as far as Dr. Sample is concerned, a positive result for THC is more of a “lifestyle” marker than proof that someone is stoned on the job.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t.
There are now a handful of states that have legalized the leaf for recreational use. Still, because of the federal government’s drug-free workplace laws, which was slapped on the books during the Reagan Administration, it is still considered a no-no for some workers to test positive for pot during their shift. Even those companies not required by federal guidelines to test for marijuana sometimes do. It’s one of those annoying conditions that drug policy experts say is used to discriminate against a person for their after-hours behavior and not a solid appraisal for their performance. This is just one of the reasons that some jurisdictions, like New York City, have been trying to ban preliminary weed screens for the past several months. Lawmakers there just don’t believe that a positive test for marijuana should immediately disqualify a job applicant.
But the real trouble with all of this drug testing business is that there is still no effective device on the market that can accurately gauge impairment. All of the testing we have right now simply determines whether someone has smoked weed at some point within the last 30 days or so. Sure, some tech companies claim they are on the verge of unleashing a real deal cannabis breathalyzer that will improve the situation, but we have yet to see any real proof that they are even close.
It is a real problem – one of those “so, we can put on a man on the moon, but we can’t figure out how to tell if someone is high right now?” conundrums.
Nevertheless, this Friday — the day affectionately referred to as 420 Eve — when the times comes to bid farewell to the 9-to-5 for the weekend and you find yourself short on smoke for the 420 holiday (because you live in a prohibition state and don’t have the luxury of just walking into a dispensary like those spoiled kids in 10 other states) just ask one of your coworkers, any of them, in fact, for a hookup. Rest assured, somebody is holding!
TELL US, is marijuana use accepted at your workplace?