Legalizing cannabis is here in CA (and in other states) and it’s got HR in such a tizzy…and if we weren’t such goody two shoes, we’d all probably smoke some just to chill the %$#@! (<–HR acceptable swear symbols) out about it…so stressful!   

But we adult girl scouts tend towards after hours martinis versus vapes and tokes, sooo…here’s a little 411 on the 420:

When I train, especially other professional HR folks – I work hard to create what I call a ‘Compass’ for Critical Concepts.

Little conceptual ‘nuggets’ to embed concepts and for the participants to refer to later…loooooong after I no longer have the pleasure of their company, and they are sitting across from a surly employee; they can pull out a ‘Compass’ concept to get their head on straight, and move off in the right direction with confidence.

It’s really simple

I draw a parallel of an established familiar concept, to illustrate how to speak about a new unfamiliar concept.

I work to create simple concepts to use as example talk tracks for professionals to apply to our every changing HR world, and thus create consistency of message and mitigate risk.

You can train for hours, but what people need is to walk away with are actual tools they can use.  A framework to apply, and reference back to. That is what Compasses do.

For example:

I recently presented to the North Bay Leadership Counsel (NBLC) on the new California Marijuana law changes as pertains to employers. It was called ‘The 411 on 420’….yeeaaahhhh, I was kiiiinda proud of that bad pun…Gawd I love a groaner pun… There was also a lot of ‘the grass may not be greener…’, ‘smoking out the issues…’, and ‘let me be blunt…’…but hey, it’s important to entertain – humor helps retain learning and release the stress…But I digress…

The challenge of speaking to this evolving issue

Since the Federal and CA State laws on what is legal don’t sync up around this drug, it can be a challenge for some companies to position the issue correctly; or even articulate the nuances.  But in CA it is now legal to use marijuana recreationally.  So when an employer has a mandatory drug test in CA, it is no longer an ‘illegal’ substance per se.  But, there are also still many jobs where it is an unreasonable accommodation to allow for it (substance use/intoxication).  Yet candidates routinely present prescriptions before drug tests saying it is legal and their doctor prescribed it for them, so why can’t they use it.

So what compass can we apply here to simplify and create correct talk tracks?

For this, the parallel I used was Vicodin use (established familiar concept).  Opiate derivatives like Vicodin and other opiates such as Morphine, Codeine, etc. have long been legal to use with a prescription.  And may be valid for a medical reason (just like marijuana); prescribed by a doctor.  But if I am applying for a job where its use would impair my judgment (driving heavy machinery for example) – it is unsafe.  Of course the employer has no say of use outside of work, but on the job – safety concerns are legitimate.

So though ‘legal’ and even if legitimately ‘prescribed’, many opiates are still a legitimate ‘no pass’ for many employers for a drug test for many jobs.  Same for marijuana; and this can be used to explain the concept to the employee.

Alcohol is another familiar example that can be used as a Compass for talk tracks.  It is legal for recreational use.  Has been for years. But drinking/intoxication on the job; showing legitimate ‘cause’ (staggering, unclear speech, smelling of alcohol, etc.) while working driving that same heavy machinery can prompt a drug test (when there is a consented to policy around same in place).  Same goes for marijuana.

There are some ADA factors to consider with these drugs as well, but it helps to draw a parallel with the familiar to capture the concepts of this new unfamiliar regulatory change.

So when presented with that prescription for ‘The Pot’ as my auntie would call it…

Use these Compass examples to guide you or your staff on the concepts you need to apply, and as a guide on how to explain it the 420 fans you encounter in the workplace.

Signed: Just make sure you smell test any brownie gifts you may get thanking you for your ‘Compass’ conversation…Just say’in…. :^)