Millions of People Go To Work High

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The legalization of marijuana has come along with several challenges. In addition to concerns like driving while under the influence, people are now wondering: “What about the workplace?” If this substance is legal, can people be under the influence of marijuana on-the-job without consequence, as long as they perform their jobs effectively?

Will we learn of doctors performing procedures under the influence? Or lawyers trying cases?

Recently, Mashable partnered with Survey Monkey to find out just how many people are using marijuana and other substances before they arrive at work. The results of the survey indicate that a shocking 9.7 percent of survey respondents said they’ve gone to work under the influence of marijuana. If we assume the entire nation follows the same patterns, this would mean that around 15.1 million of the 156 million or so workers in the U.S. have used weed before going to work.

The Mashable survey also asked about other drugs — entirely illegal drugs, prescription drugs, etc. — and the survey results were pretty surprising in these areas, as well. More than 3 percent of the respondents said they’ve actually gone to work under the influence of illegal drugs, other than marijuana. As for prescription drugs, more than 28 percent of people said they’ve taken a prescription medication before work, and around 7 percent of survey respondents said these prescription drugs were for recreational purposes, as opposed to medicinal reasons.

With medical marijuana legal in nearly half of the nation’s states, and recreational marijuana legal in Colorado and Washington, we may see workplaces begin to implement newer, updated policies on marijuana use in the workplace.

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

To enforce any sort of marijuana policy, human resources and management personnel have to continue to work towards coming up with uniform, across the board protocols for detecting use, and enforcing prohibitory policies.

According to an older report by How Stuff Works, “In 2011, 57 percent of U.S. businesses required prospective employees to pass a drug test, according to a poll conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. Drug tests detect the five metabolites that THC breaks down into before passing into urine. Detectable amounts can remain in the system for several days or weeks following use, depending on potency and amount consumed.”

With marijuana remaining in the system for such a long period of time, it’s difficult for an employer to test an employee and determine if he or she is currently under the influence, or if he or she was say, using over the weekend.

According to a recent CNBC report, some employers in Colorado may very well say no to marijuana altogether. “In Colorado, there was interest in having new drug policies, and adding language to existing policies so that workers know regardless of legalization, they can’t use on or off duty at work,” said Curtis Graves, staff attorney at Mountain States Employers Council in Colorado, in the CNBC report.

With widespread (or even nationwide) legalization becoming more of a potential reality, we should expect to see more and more handbooks addressing this very issue. So, while millions of workers have showed up to work high, it’s unlikely that your coworkers will start showing up for meetings acting like Cheech and Chong.

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