Why Your Job May Be Going To Pot


Written By: John M. O’Connor

Credit: GetBudding.com

The cannabis industry and new laws may be impacting your employment. There are 33 states and the District of Columbia that now allow medical marijuana in some form. Expect more recreational marijuana to add to the dominos that are falling in favor of the cannabis industry. How might this affect your job or employment? Quest Diagnostics reports that the highest industry usage of marijuana are in the customer facing industries – retail and health care and social work. But the impact of marijuana on your job, your organization and your company in the coming years will be massive. I predict every job and every company will be impacted by marijuana and the cannabis industry. It already is here.

From the point of view of those testing people for employment there is a lot to consider as the workforce currently sees an employee’s market vs. an employer’s market. That means companies need talent and many organizations are reducing their requirements for drug testing applicants. But the testing companies like Quest Diagnostics point out the cost of so-called illicit drugs in the workplace: Drug use costs the United States economy billions of dollars annually….Drug use among employees can lead to lower productivity, increased workplace accidents and injuries, increased absenteeism, and lower morale. This all may be true; however, with 33 states allowing medical marijuana and many of those lessening penalties or relaxing enforcement of recreational marijuana what is an employer to do with its current workforce?

Many employers now are relaxing drug testing restrictions in all fields and for many disciplines. So called potheads are simply not limited to the customer facing industries. Even if you don’t live in the 10 legal recreational marijuana states or the District of Columbiawhat’s stopping you from taking a cannabis vacation and enjoying your freedom? Look at all the ads beckoning you to come to California, Oregon, Washington, Maine and Michigan asking you to consider a cannabis lovers paradise with their lovely bud and breakfasts. Testing results may impact you, your employees, your company and your job even if you are not in a marijuana permissive state. Where there is smoke there is fire and many are seeking out the smoke with vacation travel. In other words marijuana is coming to your state whether its legal or not.

Here are some trends to watch as marijuana becomes more accepted and a bigger influence on your job, your organization and your work regardless of where you live:

Relaxed Testing. The trend is toward the relaxation of testing methodologies because of tight labor markets and the growing acceptance and demand for legal marijuana. Almost all employers need skilled labor. Marijuana acceptance for medical purposes is up to around 70% across all the states in almost every poll. Recreational marijuana is not as accepted but it is in more acceptance because of medical marijuana. Look for that trend and relaxed testing to continue.

Weed or Cannabis Drug Testing May Even Be Eliminated. In Current Compliance it was noted last year that AutoNation, the largest auto-dealer chain in the U.S. announced yesterday that they no longer count a positive marijuana test on a pre-employment test as a reason to not hire a potential employee. The company actually practiced this for two years before announcing what many knew last year. Positive tests for other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, would still count as a viable reason to refuse employment. This trend will continue with many other companies not just AutoNation. It already has.

Substance Abuse Dangers Will Increase. In all of the hype, excitement and push toward legalization across the United States the toll on workers bodies and minds may not be measured correctly. Human Resources departments and organizational leaders will struggle with this potential added burden. Many well documented dangers are coming with this trend that will affect your organization and your employment. The National Institute of on Drug Abuse cities many problems with smoking marijuana and marijuana edibles. Some of those are breathing problems, increased heart rate, hallucinations, mental health exacerbations, pregnancy and child development issues, and potentially higher susceptibility to other problems and disease.

Let’s not hide from the movement of marijuana into our workforce, on our jobs and into our lives. We need to know what’s coming, how it may affect us and how we can deal with it and with those affected by it good or bad. Regardless of whether you live in a recreational or medical marijuana state it will impact you profoundly. Users of the drug may try smoking or edibles. Across the nation they could still face criminal charges and limits on use and possession are required even in the legal recreational states. Rules are and will be enforced. Pay attention to the coming impact because there’s smoke as we watch this fire.


In his 28th year of career strategy coaching, outplacement and best practices in career services, John M. O’Connor has written 31 Feature Articles and been cited in 100+ Expert Panel Quote publications for Forbes on career and workplace issues. He became the first private practice Reach Branding Certified Specialist in North Carolina and is the first Certified Federal Job Search Trainer (CFJST). With a unique fiction writing pedigree, he obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University. He has written multiple LinkedIn articles and contributed to career transition stories for Yahoo! Hotjobs, Monster.com, CNN-Money, The Ladders, AOL.com, and in many newspaper publications locally and nationally. 

His diversified experience includes serving as a college professor and as a United States Army officer. John is a keynote speaker and corporate trainer offering consultations, outplacement and talent issues, best workplace issues and human resource services.