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Stoned and safe - Strategies to reduce risk in the workplace

Published Jun 17, 2023 09:00 a.m. ET
Unsplash / James Kovin

As cannabis becomes more socially acceptable, and enthusiasts grow in numbers, it's crucial for employees to understand the risk associated with using it at work. That is especially true for those in roles where heavy machinery or danger are consistently involved.

Though some people experience effects that may seem ideal in the workplace, others may be slower, or even intoxicated, so it's important to keep safety in mind while you navigate this controversial situation.

Whether you work in construction, aviation, manufacturing or any other industry, these ten tips and tricks should help to ensure a safe place of work for all.

1. Follow workplace policies

Before you decide whether or not using cannabis at work is a good idea, it's best to familiarize yourself with your employer's policies, as many companies enforce strict rules that may include prohibiting employees from partaking at work. Some even go so far as to restrict workers from using cannabis in the hours leading up to or immediately following a shift and adhering to these limits is not optional.

Going against these policies could result in disciplinary action and no one wants to get fired over their consumption habits.

2. Avoid working while under the influence

Medical consumers may not have much of a choice in the matter if they require relief and have a prescription, but if you can it’s always safer to wait until you’ve finished work and made the journey home. If you’ve consumed cannabis recently, and must go to work, then it’s crucial to assess your level of impairment beforehand.

Always avoid using cannabis before attempting to complete tasks that require intense focus, concentration, or alertness if you feel even slightly impaired. Being completely honest with both yourself and your employer will help to prevent any accidents that could happen while you’re at work, some of which may cause harm to you or your fellow employees.

3. Time your cannabis use appropriately

If you use cannabis, be it for recreational or medicinal purposes it’s a good idea to schedule each sesh as responsibly as possible, with more than enough time to sober up completely before your next shift at work. Consider how long your chosen product may impact your body and mind so you can leave enough room for the most intense psychoactive components to wear off entirely.

4. Consider using non-psychoactive CBD products instead

If you’re worried at all about potentially being impaired at work, or concerned about potential drug testing, then you may want to consider opting for CBD products which are non-psychoactive. CBD is a cannabis compound that offers many therapeutic benefits that are similar to THC without any effects that may leave you feeling impaired.

This way, you can still get relief from almost anything that could be bothering you like pain, stress, or anxiety, without posing a risk to yourself or others.

5. Stay informed on the potential effects of strains and dosing

Understanding how different cannabis strains and dosing may affect the body and mind can help you to make better, and ultimately safer choices in the workplace. Certain types of cannabis may give you an energizing boost that could be helpful during the workday while others may be more calming or sedating.

Once you know what works best for you, and how these things may impact your focus and cognitive functions, you’ll be able to choose the ones that are most compatible with the environment you work in.

6. Moderation is key

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No matter where you may be, when it comes to cannabis, moderation is always key to a successful experience and your place of employment is no exception to that rule. Avoiding overindulging that may cause impairment or prolonged effects is essential. When you're at work be sure to use cannabis responsibly, so you’re able to stay aware, focused, and fast to react.

That way you can diligently and safely perform any tasks that may be required of you.

7. Consider alternative consumption methods

If you’re using cannabis products that are high in THC then there’s no way around the high, as the effects are sure to be at least slightly impairing. However, you may be able to minimize its impact on your performance at work, by exploring alternative methods of consumption, some of which may offer effects that are slightly less intense, or shorter lasting.

One example of this is smoking or vaping, both of which tend to deliver a shorter, less powerful experience when compared to alternatives such as edibles, or beverages. In some cases, changing the way you use cannabis could help you to minimize the risk of being impaired during working hours.

8. Be sure to get plenty of good quality sleep

Many enthusiasts don’t realize how much cannabis can alter sleeping patterns, and that’s why it’s so critical to ensure you’re getting enough rest each night, so that your body and mind can recover completely before you need to go to work. Even though fatigue might feel manageable, it’s guaranteed to impact performance, which in turn could increase the likelihood of accidents occuring.

So don’t forget to be mindful of your sleep hygiene and make any necessary adjustments.

9. Respect the values and opinions of your co-workers

Not everyone is comfortable with cannabis, and it’s important to keep the boundaries and personal preferences of other employees in mind, to avoid adversely impacting their performance or well being. Everyone should feel safe and at ease in the workplace, so be sure to conduct yourself accordingly even if you’re unsure of how those around you feel about it.

Open communication can help, as will avoiding using cannabis in areas you share with other workers.

10. Get recommendations from a professional

It’s only natural to be a little bit worried about how cannabis might impact everything from the way you perform to how it could make other employees feel, so it may be helpful to seek guidance or recommendations from professionals who are knowledgeable on the subject. Whether it’s a healthcare provider, occupational health expert, human resources representative, or a cannabis consultant.

These highly skilled individuals will be able to provide you with the support, resources, and information you need to be confident in your decisions.

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