Cannabis enthusiasts far and wide should agree that it's twisted how the booze hounds of the world can openly have a martini with lunch at work, and it's not only viewed as acceptable, but also Mad Men-chic. And people who prefer Xanax to cannabis for anxiety can pop a pill at their desk like a Tic Tac, while puffing on a CBD-heavy vaporizer to treat a diagnosed mental health condition is considered taboo or even just cause for termination.
Those of us who need to medicate on the job — or like to utilize cannabis to enhance their time in the office — have it rough. Businesses can legally fire employees who show up to work high or use cannabis while on the clock, and workers at federally-funded jobs continue to be subject to drug testing.
In early February, Maine became the first state to institutionally protect employees from unfair hiring and firing practices due to cannabis use. Though the state's plans to enact adult-use legalization have been stalled, employers will no longer be able to test applicants for cannabis prior to hiring, or fire an employee for using cannabis outside of the workplace. This is progress, but it's definitely an exception to the norm. Therefore, when even smelling like pot can lead to a "talk" with your manager, what's a highly functioning stoner to do?
As more states legalize the plant, there's hope that our country will shift its attitudes about using weed in the workplace. Until then, potheads and patients alike will have to imbibe on-the-low and keep a bottle of Rohtos in our desks. Sure, some of us will still get fired in the near future for blazing in the parking lot or reeking like a dorm room at the team meeting. But, for better or worse, there have been countless marijuana martyrs before us. These pot-friendly professionals who got axed for grass can teach us from their mistakes and keep us out of hot water at a time when cannabis is still stigmatized by the corporate world.
MERRY JANE got in touch with a number of legit, hardworking people who had unique stories about sneaking smoke seshes at work. Follow their tips, learn from their foibles, and the straight-laced (and maybe drunk) suits won't be any the wiser. It's one thing to be a highly productive stoner; it's another to be a highly productive stoner who stays employed!
Names have been changed to protect anonymity. Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
I used to work at a CVS in Puerto Rico. When I first started in a management position, I was an overnight manager. My first shift was with a cashier who smoked, too. I noticed because the whole first half of the shift he was very fidgety, kept looking at the clock (waiting for his break), and he seemed out of place. After his break, though, he was happy and pretty efficient. Having recently moved back to Puerto Rico from the States, I still didn't have a decent pot plug, so I decided to ask him if he knew anyone who sold. His face got so red you would have thought I called him cute or something. So he tells me he can hook me up and I ask him if he has any right then that we could smoke. He goes to get some out of his car, and then we closed the store and put a sign on the door saying, "Filling the drinks cooler, be back in 30 min." We ended up making a bong out of a Gatorade bottle, a Bic pen, and some aluminum foil, and then hot-boxed the cooler for about 20 minutes.
A couple of years later, after being promoted and moved around, I ended up working at another store. At this store, I would sell weed to some of the cashiers and the security guard because I could get better quality than them. I also used to have a pipe that was disguised as a bracelet around my ankle. So the security guard and I would go in the outside storage area where we kept the paper products to take a couple of hits, and we would smoke a cigarette after to cover up the smell.
I ended up getting fired because me and my friends made a video of me offering a blunt to a toll booth attendant. It went viral before I made my friend delete it. In early 2016, I came into work and had to meet with the District and the Loss Prevention managers. They sat me down and interrogated me about my Twitter account before "suspending me indefinitely."
It was a bitch at first, but now I see it as a blessing. I moved back to the States, began working in a grow house in Colorado Springs for four months, and now I'm in Orlando waiting for the weed market to properly open up so that my mom and I can try to enter it with our homemade edibles and marijuana skin care products.
Assistant Editor at a Big Media Company
I used to work as an assistant editor at a big, corporate, media company that you have definitely heard of. They have an office in Times Square and one in downtown Manhattan. I spent time at both, but I preferred being positioned downtown because there were fewer cops around, so I could sneak out to a nearby park or side street to smoke up. (In comparison, Times Square is the worst place on Earth to try to secretly blaze).
I kept a stash in my locked desk drawer so I didn't have to bring weed with me on the MTA every day. I used a one hitter — one of those ones that looks like a cigarette. Most days I took walks by myself, around the block, in the park, just like anyone else taking a cigarette break, except mine was a pot break. It was always chill except for this one time. I ran into one of my higher ups in the park, and he was smoking an actual cigarette. I was so young and thought I was so smooth, so I'm just standing there smoking out of my one hitter, stoned as fuck, playing it off like it's just tobacco. There's no way he didn't know. I mean, it smelled, obviously. So we're just standing there shooting the shit and he's smoking his cigarette and I have my one hitter in my hand. I never got in trouble, though. That guy was a well-known Phish fan, so he probably just told his friends and thought it was funny.
I work on a farm in Virginia with cows and sheep and chickens. It's a family friend's, and I mostly do odd jobs here and there, like mucking out horse stalls and maintaining paint jobs. There are tractors, so operating heavy machinery is part of the gig, which you're not supposed to do stoned. The owner is this real tough dog Southern guy who is conservative through and through. But he mostly leaves me alone.
Like most of life, the work is just better stoned. There is a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and mucking horse manure becomes oddly meditative when you're high. But if my boss caught me he'd not only fire me but literally call the cops, too. So I have a little corner in the cow pasture where I like to sit. It's behind the barn, and no one can see it. The smell isn't too much of an issue, as the land is so big. I notice the cows tend to come my way while I take my "break" though, so I'm pretty certain I get the cows high on the reg.
Writer at Young/Edgy Media Company
Our office was always really chill about weed — and drug culture in general — because the media company was all about covering sex/drugs/etc. That said, you could get in trouble if you were behind on work and clearly stoned. But as the company grew, more and more corporate types began touring the office and taking meetings. HR eventually made everyone throw out our paraphernalia (as well as porn) before one super VIP guest came by. After that, things felt different and it was infinitely less tolerated to be caught smoking a joint outside the front entrance. To stay under-the-radar, me and my canna-colleagues began smoking "green lanterns" — aka rolled cigarettes with a pinch of weed at the very tip. It was almost like using one of those cigarette-shaped one hitters, but there'd be no paper trail. We never got caught. I got so used to smoking those bastardized spliffs that even today they're my consumption method of choice.
Ad Agency Employee
I eat weed cookies for breakfast and tell my coworkers that they're protein breakfast bars. I work at an ad agency; sue me.
Inventory Company Employee
These days blazing at work is (occasionally) part of my job description — or at least thoughtful cannabis consumption is normalized, seeing as how I'm an editor for a cannabis media site based in a post-legalized Los Angeles. But this wasn't always the case.
One job in particular required a certain sneakiness and stealth if you wanted to get stoned. I was working for an inventory company during my freshman year in college. For context, the job was pretty simple, but also boring as hell. The company would be hired by retailers, grocery stores, and big-box stores to take inventory of everything on the shelves. Late at night, when these businesses closed to the general public, van-loads of 'counters' (myself included) would descend on the store, and count virtually anything that had a scan-able skew. Naturally, this is something I wanted to be on drugs for.
So regularly, me and a friend who also worked for the company would lock ourselves in the bathroom or sneak out to his car, and smoke a quick bowl, or half of a blunt, before spending the next six hours red-eyed and giggling while we counted thousands of cans of soup, or bins of basic tees, etc. . . This went on for a few months. We'd show up, clock in, find a bathroom, and get high, with nobody being the wiser. But we eventually got caught, and subsequently fired.
One night after our routine, we left a still-packed but not fully cashed bowl in the bathroom of a Hollister store where we were doing inventory. I wish I could say that I left the job in a blaze of glory, or bid my farewells to the most boring job ever with as much eloquence and panache as Scarface did at the burger joint in Half Baked. But I'm pretty sure we just asked for our pipe back before blazing one down in the parking lot and driving home. Though now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure I never received my final paycheck. Or if I did, I imagine I probably spent it on weed.
Follow Sophie Saint Thomas on Twitter