With all the talk surrounding marijuana there is much confusion on the topic. Below are six things you should know about the drug and how it can be related to the workplace.
- Marijuana is bad for the workplace. It can affect the health and safety of the person using it as well as those around them. Some effects it could have on a person include, but are not limited to: delayed decision making, reduced concentration, weakened memory, paranoia, and drowsiness all of which can cause problems in a workplace environment.
- Marijuana use is rising. Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. In 2012, both Washington state and Colorado passed legislation effectively legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. The idea that many people have is that marijuana is like or even safer than alcohol and therefore should be at the discretion of the adult user for private, personal use. Approximately 2.4 million people over age 12 used marijuana for the first time in 2012.
- Marijuana has changed through the years. The pot used in the ’60s and ’70s had a very low THC content of 2-3 percent. THC is the main psychoactive component in marijuana. The potency and effect of marijuana are directly related to the THC content. It is much more potent now which means greater potential for addiction. As potency goes up, adverse effects like anxiety, depression, psychosis, violent vomiting and addiction also increase. Marijuana is not the same drug that it was thirty years ago.
- Marijuana use could have harmful long-term effects and impact your health. We’ve listed some negative effects of using Marijuana in the workplace. But it is also important to know some of the effects it could have on a person include, but are not limited to: delayed decision making, reduced concentration, weakened memory, paranoia, and drowsiness all of which can cause problems in a workplace environment. The intoxicating chemicals in marijuana can remain in the body long after a person stops using the drug. Physical effects include but are not limited to: breathing problems (because the smoke irritates the lungs), higher risk of lung infection or even cancer, increased heart rate (increased risk of heart attack), and numerous mental effects, just to name a few.
- Marijuana as medicine. The FDA requires carefully conducted studies (clinical trials) in hundreds to thousands of human subjects to determine the benefits and risks of as possible medication. So far, researchers have not conducted enough large-scale clinical trials that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant (as opposed to its cannabinoid ingredients) outweigh its risks in patients it is meant to treat. There is no disease that is actually improved by the effects of marijuana. THC may help with symptoms of some diseases but there are often other alternatives. Marijuana does not fit the basic definition of a medicine and since it is self-delivered, the dosages frequently are random and inconsistent, as are the effects on the human body.
- Marijuana is a gateway drug. For many people, marijuana is the first drug they abuse. A recent Yale University study found that both young men and women who used marijuana were far more likely to follow this with abuse of prescription drugs – young men had a 25% higher risk. It’s not known if marijuana creates chemical changes that make the use of other drugs more appealing or if it is just a matter that once a person gets started, it does not seem that it is more appealing to try another drug.
With the exception of possibly having positive medicinal uses, these are all reasons why marijuana use should be discouraged, especially in the workplace. The old ad campaign from the ‘80s and ‘90s, “Just Say No” still holds true – when it comes to employees using marijuana and employers allowing that use.