Even if it’s legal in your state, marijuana is still considered a dangerous drug on a federal level. So if you feel like speaking your truth, you have the right to do so, but there may be consequences.
With marijuana legalization spreading, talking about getting high has become more commonplace than taboo in many circles. When it comes to water cooler talk at work, however, cannabis conversations are still confusing to navigate.
Some states have laws protecting employees’ off-the-clock marijuana usage, while others do not. Some jobs embrace marijuana legalization while others have HR policies that read as though recreational marijuana isn’t “a thing.” All this uncertainty likely has you wondering if and when you can freely talk to your coworkers about your marijuana use.
Read The Room
Regardless of whether or not your company has specific marijuana policies, it is always best to understand the social climate of the office. Some workplaces promote the open and free spirit communication style of office behavior, while others are more tight lipped.
One thing to consider when you are wondering if it is appropriate to bring up marijuana use is how “getting high” is considered amongst many employers in legal states, according to an article by the Health and Safety Institute (HSI). “There is a parallel with alcohol use here. It is legal for adults over the age of 21 to buy and enjoy alcoholic beverages, but companies still have every right to expect an employee not to show up for work intoxicated, and not to drink while on the job.”
So if marijuana use is often treated the same as drinking, perhaps treat it as such. While staying in and smoking a joint is a different vibe than a night out at the clubs, the two acts are on similar wavelengths in the eyes of some professionals. If you wouldn’t tell your boss about getting drunk at happy hour, perhaps it’s best to keep your after work edible habit to yourself.
Know Your State Rights
Reading the room is important when it comes to not putting your foot in your mouth, but reading your state laws and employee manual can help keep you from losing your job. Some states, like New York, have laws protecting employees and their off-the-clock weed use.
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“The DOL says employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on the employee’s use of cannabis outside the workplace, outside of work hours, and without use of the employer’s equipment or property,” wrote Forbes, in regards to New York’s new recreational marijuana inspired law.
Many other states, including California, do not have off-the-clock employee protections in place on a state level. Policy is often created at a local level or within a job’s employee manual. This can be altogether confusing for a marijuana user in a legal state, but it will remain a quagmire and headache until federal lawmakers and state lawmakers speak the same language on the subject.
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As Reuter’s put it, “The business community should expect local lawmakers to continue taking a proactive role in providing marijuana-related protections to employees, which will in turn continue to cause tension between the federal framework, and the framework of what is now a majority of the states.”
If you use marijuana regularly, be sure to understand your local laws and your company policies. This is especially true with those who use medical marijuana. Different states have different protections, and it is critical you know what is and is not acceptable at your job.
Use Respect Common Sense
If you work in a relaxed establishment where others talk about dispensaries and getting high at concerts, the odds are it’s safe for you as an employee to join in on the conversation. Still, always remember that just because you get along with your coworkers does not mean you think the same. Don’t forget that although the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, there is still a large minority who oppose it. The odds are one of those people could work in your office.
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You never know if one of your new co-workers is a highly conservative “war on drugs” type. Remember coworkers have all sorts of different views, and marijuana is still a taboo subject for many. If you aren’t sure if it’s a good idea to discuss freely with co-workers, it probably isn’t. Remember that marijuana is still a class I substance on a federal level, which means that even if it is legal in your state, it is still considered a dangerous drug on a federal level.
So if you feel like speaking your truth, you have the right to do so, but there may be consequences. If, for some reason, you can’t decide if talking about your weed use is a good idea at work, it might be better to hold that thought until you clock out and see your friends whom you trust.