What jobs are acceptable to do while high? It’s a question employers need to ask a lot more these days, even as Congress considers decriminalizing marijuana.
A recent report revealed that the percentage of American workers testing positive for the drug has reached a two decades high in 2021. Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s largest drug testing companies, screened 6 million workers for marijuana last year; 3.9% of the tests came back positive. Many of these tests were “pre-employment,” meaning the worker wasn’t even fit for the job interview.
Considering the labor shortage and the fact that more and more states have legalized recreational marijuana, this is perhaps not surprising. But it should still be of concern. Of course, there are federal regulations requiring companies to test employees responsible for operating heavy machinery. But what exactly are jobs that are okay to do while stoned?
I recently went to play tennis inside a local club and found the bubble was filled with marijuana. Presumably the smell came from the workers and not from people paying to play. Will smoking a joint make tennis pros more patient with bad students? Will it make them slower to react to stray bullets attacking them?
What about customer-facing jobs? Have you ever tried to walk out of the grocery store or check into a hotel with an employee who isn’t all there, but finds you very, very funny? I’ve done both recently, and I’m not inclined to frequent establishments again.
One would assume that professionals can do their job under the mild influence of drugs without any worries. Sure, there might be more typos in the log and the computer code might have a few more glitches, but that’s not the end of the world. But the truth is, it’s hard to move forward with a substance use problem. And if you can’t stop using a drug long enough to pass a pre-employment drug test, you might have a problem.
Our country faces the scourge of drug use, with the number of overdoses reaching over 100,000 in a single calendar year. Alcohol abuse has also risen dramatically, with alcohol-related deaths increasing by 25% between 2019 and 2020 alone. Unfortunately, the message we send to young people about drugs is that they’re fine as long as the habit is well managed, and you can make some money out of it. New York is still giving drug offenders the first shot to licenses to sell marijuana.
Many politicians are probably salivating at the potential windfall from legal marijuana sales. Even if you think pot should be legal like cigarettes or alcohol, these products have brought huge health costs to our country. Will families soon file class action lawsuits against cannabis companies for failing to warn users that teens who admitted to frequent cannabis use were six times more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life than non-schizophrenia? -cannabis smokers?
Even though marijuana use doesn’t create long-term problems for many users – research is still ongoing on this – it does make people more boring, less precise and slower in their work. This is not a recipe for career success. Yes, you can sell people Happy Meals if you’re not very careful, but you’re unlikely to move from an entry-level job to a leadership position if you don’t seem particularly motivated or present.
For those interested in social and economic mobility in America, this is another example in which messages from the upper classes actively harm the lower classes.
In a review of Carl Hart’s 2021 book, “Drug Use for Grown-Ups,” my American Enterprise Institute colleague Sally Satel noted, “The vexing paradox is that the very individuals who feel compelled to using intoxicants to excess are often the least psychologically equipped to handle them.”
For those already on the lower end of the economic spectrum or facing other challenges — including violent neighborhoods, dysfunctional family life, and poor educational options — drugs present a way out they don’t. can’t afford to use.
When we say that drug use is not a big deal, that it can be easily managed so as not to interfere with a productive life, we are not telling the truth about what it takes to live a classy life. average in America. While it’s old-fashioned to suggest that working hard can lead to upward mobility, the truth is that drug use will make that journey even less likely.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Deseret News contributor, and the author of “No way to treat a child: how the foster care system, family courts and racial activists are destroying the lives of young people.”