Marijuana Lunch Break: Employer’s Bias Versus the Law
Smoking weed on your lunch break, legally that is, is a bit of a grey area depending on where you live. Federally speaking in the United States, lighting up is permissible in the eyes of the law. However, each state has the right to dispute this privilege, and they have. Progressive states like Washington and Colorado have allowed the commercial use of marijuana. This past year alone, business boomed, generating over six billion dollars in revenue. It is businesses in these areas who are more lenient and even encourage their employees to get high at work on their lunch break. For example Kyle Sherman, co-founder of Flowhub says “Our philosophy at Flowhub is to get s*** done…If it helps our employees get work done, then we don’t care if they consume at work.”
Flow Hub is a Denver-based startup that provides software for the cannabis industry. It’s not a bunch of dudes in a basement smoking weed together either. They are full functioning and making a ton of money. Marijuana has inspired creativity and also team bonding. As cool as Sherman and Flow Hub sound, not everyone is so comfortable with the idea of their employees smoking weed on their lunch break, at work in general or otherwise. The image surrounding marijuana use is still a little less than wholesome and most companies are worried about how that image will influence their investors. It’s kind of hard to measure who condones it and who doesn’t. Brandon David who is a sales executive with a San Francisco-based software firm explains “there definitely are far more [businesses] that allow it than are willing to openly talk about it.”
These murky opinions get even more blurry in states that only permit the medical use of marijuana. We’ve all heard of the person who got caught smoking at work or showed up high too many times and their bosses caught on. The end of these stories usually end with that person being suspended or fired. This situation has gotten a little complicated over the past couple years. What can your employer really do if you have a medical marijuana card? Technically, these cards are recommendations not prescriptions so, “in California, the state Supreme Court held that the law protects medical marijuana users from criminal prosecution, but not from being fired”.
Here is why it get’s tricky. The law protects a person from being criminally prosecuted if they have a med card, however, it doesn’t require employers to allow their employees to get high so basically “employers can prohibit employees in California from possessing, using or being under the influence of marijuana at work, just as they can forbid them from being drunk on the job”. Despite the major differences in being drunk and being high, this is a major defense for employers who have a bias against weed and people who use is for medical purposes; even if it doesn’t affect their capability of being productive.
“Many people have tried to challenge this in court at the state level, and in cases in Oregon, California, and Montana, the court always ruled in favor of the employer due to the ‘no accommodations’ clause in the original legislation.” The only way to really change this is to ask our senators to revisit the bill and revise the clause. Not everyone should be getting high all day at work, but for people with anxiety or those trying to temporarily manage pain for example, marijuana can be a great way to keep production running and employees happy. Until then, if you like to smoke and your employer doesn’t approve, keep it to yourself!