Is it ever acceptable for a CEO to ‘smoke up’?
Canada is going through a revolution, with recreational cannabis becoming legal on October 17th of this year. The legalization has sparked a global debate on the taboo surrounding cannabis, as well as launching a whole new sector to cater to public demand.
Recently, the world was taken aback when embattled Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, decided to smoke a joint live on air during The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. And, whilst the imagery of it may have been some what shocking, it does raise the question, is it ever okay to see an executive smoke pot?
“The day when cannabis is completely normalized is actually much closer than we may believe,” explained Jason Fleming, VP of HR at MedReleaf and speaker at the upcoming HR Leaders Summit.
“I know that after Elon Musk smoked a joint during that interview the company stock dropped considerably in the 24 hours following. However, I don’t think that’s a marker of how far we are away from normalization.
“I believe that, over time, we’ll see recreational cannabis and alcohol on the same level in terms of stigma. People will obviously have to use them responsibly, and we’d certainly never want anyone being impaired when trying to work or drive. Having said that, I think the stigma of recreational cannabis use will be eradicated very soon.”
Jason has the unique experience of coming into the cannabis industry during it’s awakening two years ago – meaning he’s seen the perception shift and morph into a cautious curiosity.
“Over the last two years there’s been a significant evolution.People are migrating from traditional mainstream industries to the cannabis sector – the industry has changed so much, and employees are picking up on that. Coming from the transportation sector – you really couldn’t have more oppositional industries.
“Transportation is very well-established, it’s over a century old with cemented laws and regulations. Leaving that kind of environment and going into the cannabis sector, where the laws that govern how organizations operate were being developed weekly – it really called for agility and foresight.”
This agility and ability to manage change means Jason’s got the advantage in the emerging cannabis sector – something organizations should be looking to implement themselves.
“These changes in the law offer up a great opportunity to amend how we approach drug and alcohol policies. We have a lot of people in Canada right now focused on developing a sole cannabis policy, when in reality cannabis is just one of the substances that causes impairment.
“What I have continually encouraged employers to do is build policies that target general substance abuse as well as general impairment in the workplace. Substances can be grouped into categories and employers can manage the categories, rather than having a specific plan for managing each individual substance. This allows you to manage recreational cannabis in the same way you’d manage alcohol and medical cannabis in the same way you’d manage opioids.”