One-Third of Computer Programmers Love to Code While Stoned, Survey Says
A new survey reports that a sizable majority of software programmers love cannabis, putting them at odds with strict anti-weed workplace policies.
Published on December 29, 2021

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Over a third of software programmers have gotten high while coding, and some even choose to do so regularly, according to a new survey published in Cornell University’s arXiv.

Researchers from the University of Michigan conducted this survey to discover if workplace anti-cannabis policies could be discouraging software programmers from applying for jobs. To conduct the survey, researchers used social media to recruit 803 software developers, including 450 coders with full-time computer science jobs and 290 students.

More than a third (35 percent) of the respondents admitted they had gotten high while programming or working on other software engineering tasks. Out of this group, 53 percent said that they had done so at least once a month, 27 percent said they got high at work at least twice a week, and 11 percent said they used cannabis on a near-daily basis.

Researchers also posed additional questions to the cannabis-using subjects in order to better understand why and when they got high. The majority of respondents said they preferred to use cannabis while working on personal projects or non-urgent programming tasks. Less than a third of subjects said they got high while working on work- or school-related projects, and only 9 percent said they got lit while working on deadline-critical tasks.

“Overall, we found that programmers were more likely to report enjoyment or programming enhancement motivations than wellness motivations: the most common reasons were ‘to make programming-related tasks more enjoyable’ (61%) and ‘to think of more creative programming solutions’ (53%),” the study authors explained

“In fact, all programming enhancement reasons were selected by at least 30% of respondents. On the other hand, general wellness related reasons (such as mitigating pain and anxiety) were all cited by less than 30% of respondents. Thus, while wellness does motivate some cannabis use while programming, it is not the most common motivation.”

The study also found that programmers are far more open to cannabis than the general public. A solid 69 percent of respondents said they had tried pot at some point in their lives, and 91 percent said they supported complete federal cannabis legalization. In contrast, recent polls suggest that only 60 to 70 percent of Americans currently support full adult-use legalization.

But although coders clearly love weed, many companies looking to hire them do not. About a third of respondents (29 percent) said that current or prospective employers had forced them to pass a drug test as a condition of employment. And even though US government, law enforcement, and military services are always trying to recruit good programmers, all federal jobs require complete abstinence from cannabis, including federally-legal CBD. The FBI has recently started accepting applications from people who have smoked weed in the past, though.

“Our results have implications for programming job drug policies and motivate future research into cannabis use while programming,” the study authors concluded.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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