New survey says cannabis doesn’t hurt productivity

But most Canadian employers still don’t want you to be high — ever.

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One of the many, many perks to legalization has been the slow, but steady evaporation of obnoxious “stoner” stereotypes. 

For decades, cannabis was associated with do-nothing slackers, burn-out losers, and white guys who felt the distinct, inexplicable and obviously offensive (to everyone but them, apparently) need to co-opt Rastafarian culture. 

From Cheech and Chong to Jay and Silent Bob to the Workaholics, cannabis has never been associated with productive, hardworking individuals. 

Like a Camaro in the front yard or watching The Bachelor, cannabis has historically been seen as a symbol of a lazy, lower class. 

But as cannabis becomes accessible and adopted by more individuals as a result of legalization, those stereotypes are beginning to seem increasingly irrelevant. Not just because we’re all realizing that every awful ‘90s anti-cannabis PSA that claimed cannabis would turn you into a loser was wrong, but because data is beginning to prove the point. 

A recent survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of ADP Canada, a human resources software company, found that for most Canadians cannabis had no impact on their work. 

Seventy-four percent of Canadians felt that cannabis had no impact on their productivity at work, while 70 percent said they didn’t feel it affected the quality of their work, either. 

Seventy-one percent said it didn’t increase the likelihood they would be absent from work and 75 percent believed that it would not have an impact on health and safety incidents. 

Wonder what the people behind this awful anti-cannabis PSA from the ’90s would think of that data? This PSA claimed that consuming cannabis was participating in an experiment that would “accelerate the aging process” and have “adverse effects on reproductive organs.” (Seriously.)

I don’t care what anyone says, the ‘90s sucked. 

It’s perhaps because of being bombarded with those terrible PSAs for so long that Canadian have historically had such an ill-outlook on cannabis, particularly as it relates to productivity and the workplace.

Prior to legalization in 2018, Canadian opinions were starkly different, and there was a distinct concern of the impact of cannabis on the Canadian workforce.

Nearly half of working Canadians expected productivity (46 percent) and quality of work (43 percent) to decline, and health and safety incidents (55 percent) and absenteeism (40 percent) to increase.

So far, it seems those fears were irrational.

That’s a major change in attitude since legalization. And while nearly half of the participants (46 percent) claimed their perception of cannabis has not changed at all, 22 percent said their perception of cannabis is more positive.

“There was a lot of uncertainty and hype leading up to cannabis legalization last year, but so far, cannabis has not had a noticeable impact on the workplace or on workplace performance,” said Hendrik Steenkamp, Director, HR Advisory, ADP Canada. “Although only a fraction of Canadian workplaces allow cannabis during the workday, it’s important for every organization to develop proper workplace guidelines and policies, as well as provide training to identify and manage impairment.”

He’s right. Only a very small number of working Canadians (8 percent) say their employer would allow them to use recreational cannabis during the work day. And a whopping 86 percent of survey corespondents said that their employers do not permit recreational cannabis use at work. 

Things get quite interesting within that 8 percent. Of the correspondents within that 8 percent, 63 percent said they’re consuming cannabis before work. Almost half (47 percent)  said that they were consuming it during work hours and almost three quarters of them are consuming after work (72 percent). 

However, when looking at Canada’s overall working population at large, the survey found that only a fraction of Canadians consume recreational cannabis before work (5 percent), during work hours (4 percent) and after work with colleagues (6 percent).

It’s not exactly a surprise that an employer who openly allows you to consume cannabis would have such a high rate of people actually doing so. However, this data may indicate that it’s time for employers to update their policies surrounding cannabis use at work, particularly if its employees and managers aren’t noticing an adverse affect on productivity or work quality. 

It’s not to say that you should be allowed to consume cannabis for every single job. Account executive, insurance broker, writer (ahem)? No problem. 

Airline pilot, crane operator, heart surgeon? Maybe save it for when you’re on your own time. 

The point is that studies are not showing cannabis to be the gateway to a lazy, slacker lifestyle that it was once presented as, and many employers in Canada will likely have to adapt to that fact as more Canadians integrate cannabis into their everyday wellness ritual. 

And hopefully we won’t ever have to sit through another cringe-inducing PSA. 

This one has rapping old people. You’re welcome.