Is it still okay to get high with a client? And other questions as the potty arrives at work

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The legalization of marijuana in the United States is bringing weed into the workplace in new ways.

Many of the 55 employees at Vangst, a recruiting firm for Denver-based cannabis companies, consume marijuana in a bi-weekly virtual meeting that usually takes place during happy hour, says Karson Humiston, its 28-year-old founder.

“Some people drink an alcoholic beverage and others smoke a joint,” she says of their team’s hangouts online.

Marijuana is a common, if sometimes secret, part of American life. Almost half of American adults said in 2021 that they had tried it, up from around 34% in 1999, according to a long-standing Gallup poll. With the expansion of the legalization of cannabis in the United States – 19 states and Washington, DC, legalized it for recreational use and more than a dozen more have authorized it for medical purposes – places of work and co-workers are adjusting to more openness about drugs, grappling with issues ranging from referring to cannabis in job interviews to deciding whether it’s okay to ever get high with a client.

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“When it was totally illegal, you didn’t have to worry too much about it in business, but now there are a lot of gray areas,” says Matt Kittay, corporate lawyer at Fox Rothschild in New York who counts cannabis companies. among its clients. For example, some companies producing cannabis products say they have had to comment on their use by employees during the working day. Others, including Amazon.com Inc.,

have stopped testing job applicants and are pushing for nationwide decriminalization.

Jamie Partida, 30, interviewed for a job last year as an account manager at Canon Solutions America, a subsidiary of copier and camera company Canon Inc., in New York City. On her resume, she included her unpaid marketing experience at CannaGather, a cannabis industry networking and education community.

“One of the first questions they asked me in my last interview was about this, and they seemed a little shocked at first,” she said, adding that she explained why it was important to her to relax attitudes towards cannabis.

The interviewer ended up liking that she was passionate about something outside of work, she says, and she got the offer. She also had to undergo a drug test before starting work, which she passed.

Ed Roberts is open with his employees about his enthusiasm for medical marijuana, which he grows at his home in Southwick, Massachusetts.


Photo:

Austin roberts

Drug testing of potential cannabis hires is becoming less common as more states legalize the drug. In New York City, recreational marijuana was legalized on March 31, 2021. So while employers can still test potential hires for cannabis use, they cannot make hiring decisions based on cannabis use alone. a positive result for cannabis, according to state law.

Some employers say they can’t afford to exclude potential hires in a tight labor market. When Amazon announced in June that it would stop screening most job applicants for marijuana, it predicted that the pool of qualified applicants would increase by 400%.

Greater acceptance of marijuana in the workplace can also mean having to listen to coworkers share details of their cannabis use patterns.

Nicholas Athey, an assistant professor at La Verne University in Southern California, says he has spoken about his marijuana use with students and colleagues since joining the university in 2017. Mr. Athey, who teaches criminology, says his openness has changed some students’ perceptions of drug addicts. He adds that it has linked him to some students, such as military veterans who use pot for pain management.

Ed Roberts, president of his Southwick, Massachusetts recruiting firm, has been a supporter of medicinal cannabis for nearly a decade and has been cultivating the plant at home. He has been passionate about his office hobby for years.

He says his full-time team of four, plus several contractors, are used to his evangelism on behalf of the factory. Mr Roberts, 65, recently suggested cannabis-infused oils for one coworker’s sleep disturbance and another’s seasonal allergies.

“I’m at a point where my employees or the people I meet at work bring their problems to me now,” he says, adding that employees haven’t pushed back his advice so far.

In some businesses, marijuana plays a role in team building and socialization. Unsurprisingly, the companies most eager to talk about it are tied to the cannabis industry.

Rosie Mattio, head of a New York-based public relations firm that works with clients in the cannabis industry, designed weed-assisted virtual bonding sessions for her team during the pandemic. As a group, they connected to experience guided online meditations and DJ sessions, each having a food or a smoke at home. In June, they attended an in-person joint rolling course in the Berkshires, led by an employee.

Liam Murray and Gina Larson-Stoller, employees of Mattio Communications, participated in a joint driving course, as part of a corporate summer retreat in the Berkshires.


Photo:

Mattio communications

At the same time, cannabis companies are tightening their rules around weed in the workplace as they seek mainstream acceptance in business. At MJBizCon, one of the industry’s largest conventions, held in Las Vegas, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2017, organizers have strict rules against on-site consumption due to local regulations. on the sites.

Nabis, a San Francisco-based cannabis wholesale platform, does not test its employees, but has a no-tolerance policy for being under the influence at work, in part because some employees handle heavy equipment. , said chief executive Vince Ning.

At companies such as Vangst, recreational use of marijuana during working hours is a failure, although medical marijuana is permitted, says Humiston. At the end of the workday, however, co-workers and managers sometimes use marijuana to socialize. Workers at Cann, a THC and CBD infused beverage company in New York City, typically only drink their product on Friday afternoons, to decompress before the weekend, says Jake Bullock, 33, co-founder of Cann.

Bringing cannabis into working life may be a busier proposition for people of color, some of whom remain reluctant to openly discuss or use marijuana at work due to negative stereotypes, says Andrew Farrior, 33, managing partner of ‘a venture capital firm from New York. which invests in several black-owned cannabis startups.

Dae Lim, 28, who runs cannabis-inspired clothing brand Sundae School, says he sees fit every day to get high, adding that he’s usually sober most of the workday. Five of his 11 full-time employees regularly use cannabis, he says.

“If this was a meeting with a real estate investor for a dispensary license, I wouldn’t smoke,” he says. “But if I meet an artist for a collaboration, I think it might be appropriate to smoke together. There is a shared link that is created in this way.

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Write to Krithika Varagur at krithika.varagur@wsj.com

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