As marijuana is legalized in more and more states — 29 and counting — questions have arisen about weed in the workplace, and whether legalization will contribute to a rise in on-the-job impairment from cannabis usage.
But is marijuana actually affecting the office? That’s one of the questions addressed in a CDC report published Thursday.
The study focused specifically on Colorado — which legalized marijuana in 2012 — and used data from the state’s 2014 and 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a CDC-sponsored telephone survey of people ages 18 and older. About 10,170 people both responded to a BRFSS question about marijuana use, and said they were employed or recently out of work at the time of the survey. Of these people, 14.6% said they had used marijuana at some point during the preceding 30 days, though not necessarily on the job.
Of these respondents, about 30% of those who worked in the accommodation or food service industry said they had used marijuana, with about 32% of those employed in food serving or preparation roles copping to pot use, according to the survey. Perhaps unsurprisingly, marijuana use was least prevalent in industries “known to perform routine drug testing on employees,” such as health care and social assistance; utilities; transportation and material moving; and mining, oil, and gas.
Reported marijuana use was also highest among people ages 18 to 25, and more prevalent among men than women, the report says.
While the study dealt only with Colorado — and though self-reported survey data is always imperfect — the authors write the results can help inform future conversations about marijuana and the workplace.
“This analysis provides important data for employers considering or implementing workplace marijuana policies and highlight those industries where marijuana use among workers might reflect a higher proportion of younger workers, such as Accommodation and Food Services and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation,” the report says. “Awareness of possible employee recreational marijuana use can inform employer policies regarding drug use and workplace impairment.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story misinterpreted the percentage of marijuana users employed in food service or accommodation. It has been updated to reflect the proper number.