Colorado companies experiment with on-job pot use

In most states, smoking a joint at work would land you in the unemployment line, but the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has given birth to group of businesses that tolerate and even encourage employees to consume weed.

They include Denver-based MassRoots, a tech startup that likes to refer to itself as the Facebook for pot users, which allows its 30 employees to use cannabis as a way to stimulate creativity and boost productivity.

One way MassRoots co-founder Isaac Dietrich does that is by scheduling weekly rooftop smoke sessions (smoking isn't allowed inside the building that houses the company's downtown headquarters), where employees bond and strategize.

Dietrich said he got the idea for the social network while smoking marijuana at a college friend's apartment.

Since smoking of any kind is prohibited in most workplaces in Colorado, employees where marijuana consumption is permitted get their fix by eating foods and drinking beverages infused with cannabis.

FlowHub is another weed-friendly workplace, which employs 18 workers. The startup, also based in Denver, makes software to help cannabis growers manage plant inventories. Co-founders Kyle Sherman and Chase Wiseman both consume marijuana while at work, either in weekly brainstorming meetings or toward the end of the day.

Sherman says consuming pot helps to bring about new perspectives and ideas, and so far there haven't been any negative consequences. Employees understand that getting high at work could inhibit their ability to be as productive and creative as possible.

Still, there are businesses involved in growing and selling marijuana that don't permit their workers to use cannabis on the job. They include state-licensed dispensaries, which are prohibited by Colorado statute from permitting on-site use.

Smoking while working isn't allowed at O.penVAPE, a licensed cannabis retailer that employs workers in a wide range of positions, including drivers and machine operators. Two years ago, the Denver-based company instituted guidelines that address the issue of impairment on the job while not singling out cannabis use.

Under the policy, employees thought to be impaired would be asked to take a test to evaluate the level of impairment. If the test shows reason for concern, the employee is asked to meet with a counselor to determine an appropriate course of action, but the company has yet to reach this point with any of its workers.

Other marijuana-related companies also cite employee safety as a reason for prohibiting cannabis use in the workplace. They note, for example, that employees of liquor stores aren't permitted to drink on the job nor do pharmacies permit workers to use drugs.

Colorado, of course, isn't the only locale where cannabis use is legal. Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., also permit the recreational use of marijuana. And the trend of permitting employees to consume weed on the job could grow exponentially as the push to legalize cannabis takes root in more states, including California, Nevada, Florida and several others.

Vermont is thought to be the most likely state for recreational pot use to beapproved by state lawmakers. The governor and speaker of the house have both indicated the would support legislation legalizing marijuana.

 

 


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