By Ben Crudo

By now, legalized cannabis is old news. Ten states allow recreational usage, 33 have medical marijuana and cannabis was legalized across all of Canada a few months ago. But in spite of all that, there’s still one very big taboo topic in all these jurisdictions: pot at work.

As the founder of a tech startup, I thought by now I’d be seeing cookie jars of bud popping up next to the beer fridge in office kitchens. After all, alcohol has long been an accepted (though not encouraged) part of the modern workplace. It makes sense that employers should see pot that way as well, right?

Not so. Despite the fact that nearly a quarter of North Americans say they use cannabis recreationally, and more are open to trying it as laws change, the majority of users still aren’t comfortable talking about it at work. That, no doubt, is the result of decades of fear-stoked social stigma. As a consequence, employers have responded to legalization by ignoring the issue altogether, or implementing top-down policies aimed at limiting liabilities.  Some have even banned employees from consuming cannabis on their own time.

Certainly it’s not easy to navigate this shifting legal and cultural landscape as an employer. But ignoring the issue, or taking a super hard-line stance against it, not only risks alienating a sizable portion of your workforce, it’s increasingly leading to legal challenges.

I definitely don’t have all the answers, but as the CEO of an ecommerce agency in a jurisdiction where cannabis was recently legalized, I’ve realized there is middle ground to strike -- and it starts with including your team in decisions around how to handle weed at work.

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