People get high at work. That much is fact. But thanks to a new survey, we now know more about the how, why, when and where of smoking on the clock, including which industries are the highest—literally.
The workplace, of course, has never been a very weed-friendly space, those in the cannabis industry notwithstanding. But expanding legalization is beginning to have an effect on workplace drug policies, especially for authorized medical cannabis patients. But whether for medical or recreational purposes, increasing productivity or just dealing with that awful boss, more people are high at work than ever before.
High at Work: Daily Necessity or Special Occassion?
In a survey of 1,000 people across the U.S., all of whom are at least part-time employees, 157 people, or about 16 percent, admitted to being high on the job. While that may seem like a small percentage, it’s still higher than it was five years ago, when just 10 percent of people reported working while stoned.
So what accounts for the uptick? Legalization, you would likely reason, means more stoned employees. But in fact, states, where weed is fully illegal, have the highest percentage of high employees, though not by much. In fully legalized states, 16.2 percent of employees have worked high, compared to 17 percent in prohibition states. Medical only states come in last, at 14.6 percent. Ironic, since workplace protections for medical cannabis patients are rolling out in those places.
But what really paints the clearest picture of who’s high at work is the survey data on how many times people do it. Topping all other use-frequency categories are both employees who smoke up on the job every day and those who do so just a few times per year. In other words, getting high at work is either a daily ritual or something reserved for special occasions, holiday parties, raises, bonuses or as a final f*ck you on your way out the door.
These are the Highest—and Least High—Job Sectors in America
An entire sociological study could be conducted on the relationship between how demanding and/or fulfilling a job is and how many people get high to put in their hours. But for now, we just have the data. And this data could reflect anything. It could reflect how someone relates to their job. It could reflect how many people work in the industry. Or, it could simply represent how tolerant a particular industry is to an employee failing a drug test for weed.
According to the survey, employees in the service sector—food and hospitality—are the highest in the country. With 35 percent of workers in that industry reporting being stoned on the clock, service industry employees best all other industries. But a close second is construction, at 32.5 percent. Third place, perhaps no surprise, is the arts, entertainment and recreation industry.
At the lower end of the spectrum are those jobs that have strict safety requirements or that are highly specialized and don’t have nearly as large of a workforce. Tucked in with them, however, are jobs that require intense interpersonal interaction, especially with minors or the public, like education and healthcare—the lowest on the list at 7.8 percent and 5.7 percent respectively.
People Get High at Work for All Kinds of Reasons
So about 17 percent of 1,000 workers surveyed have been high at work. Most do it rarely or every day. And half of those surveyed say they have to undergo drug tests. So people are also smoking up for work, despite the risks. So why do people do it? Not surprisingly, for all kinds of reasons. But the top two paint a telling picture.
The top reason for being high on the job is to increase productivity. Power to all the productive smokers out there. But the second-place reason, just behind the first, was simply to pass the time. Between making the time more productive and just making time move faster, reasons for getting high at work vary from coping with stress to helping focus. Just 14.7 percent of high-on-the-jobbers do so for medical reasons, according to the survey.
So, does getting stoned make employees more productive? Survey says it doesn’t hurt. 60 percent said they experienced no change in productivity. 23 percent said being high made them more productive. Just 17 percent said it made them less productive.
Interestingly, though, those who were high at work were twice as likely than their sober co-workers to report feeling very stressed.
But even though more workers may be high on the job than ever, most aren’t holding their session in the office or on the job site. Most people smoke up or vape at home, or in their car on a break or on their commute. Then again, the office parking lot is also fairly popular. Classic stuff.