Artists and Food Service Employees Smoke the Most Weed in Colorado, Study Finds
The CDC examined which professions include the highest number of cannabis users, finding that nearly a third of all Colorado bartenders, servers, and line cooks enjoy sparking up in their free time.
Published on April 13, 2018

If you ever find yourself at a Colorado restaurant without enough cash to leave a proper 20% tip, odds are your server or bartender might be content with accepting a nug out of your personal head stash.

According to a new report from the Center for Disease Control in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Health, over 30% of employees working in "food preparation and serving" say that they have smoked weed in the past month, more than any other profession in the state.

As noted by ABC News, the CDC and Department of Health report, released Thursday, relied on survey data collected by phone from over 10,000 Centennial State employees in 2014-2015. Across all professions, 14% of respondents said that they had smoked pot in the past month.

But while most of the national conversation about cannabis and employment has harped on either the positive or negative benefits of workplace drug testing in the face of legal weed laws, the recent CDC survey did not even ask respondents if they used cannabis at or before work, but simply whether they had consumed the drug at all. By separating the legal plant from individual employer drug policies, the report offers a broader look at Colorado's cannabis culture among professionals after legalization.

In addition to the 32% of responding restaurant workers who enjoy their ganja, the federal agency reported that 28% of all "arts, design, entertainment, sports and media" laborers and 19-21% of workers in "production"; "life, physical, and social sciences"; "sales"; and "installation, maintenance, and repair," said they had lit up in the past 30 days.

And no matter how hard the CDC data collectors tried to avoid the national debate about the efficacy and morality of workplace drug testing, the study found that respondents working in jobs with a higher frequency of narcotics screenings had the lowest rates of cannabis use.

"Reported current use of marijuana was lower in industries that are known to perform routine drug testing on employees such as the Healthcare and Social Assistance (7.4%); Utilities (5.8%); and Mining, Oil, and Gas industries (5.2%)," the CDC report detailed. "Current use also was lower than the overall state prevalence in Transportation and Material Moving occupations (10.2%), which are subject to federal drug testing requirements."

Despite being an incomplete portrait of Colorado's post-prohibition cannabis zeitgeist, the survey presented an almost stereotypical image of employed weed smokers as either working creatives or service industry professionals, while white collar and union jobs reported the highest percentages of abstention.

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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