It's time to start talking about Cannabis in the workplace.


Changing Attitudes, Ignore Cannabis at Your Peril

In the not-so-distant past, I realized that the advertising industry was changing, and those who did not change their thinking about marketing would surely face challenges as consumer culture evolved. As a result, Cult Collective was born. Keep pace with me here, I’m going to make a similar case for cannabis culture.

I don’t want to preach for or against recreational marijuana use. That’s not what this post is about. The case I am making is that I see many employers ill-prepared to transition on October 17, when Cannabis becomes legal in Canada, and I want to provide my two cents. Surprisingly, even with legalization approaching, nobody wants to actually talk about cannabis, especially how it affects the workplace. I say, it’s time to get our heads out of the sand and start discussing how we will foster open and inclusive workplace culture now and into the future.

Your Workplace Magazine recently held a workshop at Communo to start a timely conversation with employers about workplace marijuana use. Vera Asanin, Publisher of Your Workplace Magazine, noted, “how important it is to get on top of this, have a conversation with your teams, and get the decisions of those conversations in writing.” I love how Vera’s message got us talking, as well as my network as I shared workshop updates across my social channels. Just like an evolving consumer culture, sooner or later the stigmas and stereotypes must be overcome. With cannabis, if someone smokes a joint on a break, it’s just not reasonable to become unhinged about it and instantly assume you’ve hired Cheech and Chong. Especially if the person is employed in a non-safety sensitive capacity. BTW, we’re creatives around here.

The 411 on 420

In Canada, we’re on the verge of full legalization, and all kinds of policies will have to evolve as we embark upon this brave new world. Lawyers are going to make thick cash for years sorting out what best practices look like, but that doesn’t give anyone license to debate whether using is right or wrong. At least, that’s not appropriate workplace conversation for fostering inclusivity.

Medically speaking, Cannabis has a pristine safety record with no deaths recorded, ever. Over-use can typically be managed by placing someone in a quiet room to chill out for a while. Maybe give snacks? Seriously though, cannabis is not a narcotic, may be a lifesaving measure for many opioid users, and it is a legitimate medication for sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, and stress. I’m no doctor, but I would encourage you to verify my claims with Dr. Sana -Ara Ahmed MD FRCPC of the Health Boutique, because she is.

Finally, we need to realize that cannabis use is a rapidly growing culture. Green Bits wrote an informative global review of weed, finding that global saturation via internet and entertainment is “effectively crafting a new ‘one world/one culture’ society, revealing an emerging global support of Cannabis legalization and decriminalization.” Changing attitudes will naturally lead to more opportunities for business and citizens alike.

The Takeaway

Cannabis is coming out of the shadows, like it or not. In the workplace, policies will need to be articulated. Think of it as a dress code — do you present your teams with 25 pages of policy telling them what to wear every day? Or do you empower people and encourage creativity within your organization? I know which leader I prefer to be. I surround myself with great people and trust that they’re not going to act like idiots. I also believe that trust can be extended vs. earned, and I’m not usually disappointed when I work like that.

So, ignore Cannabis at your peril. I’ll conclude by quoting my business partner, Chris Kneeland:

“Culture cannot be forced or fake. Manage the things that affect culture, but culture itself is the outcome.”

Cannabis is here to stay, and I love that we’ve started talking about it.