Letting Your Career go to Pot

marijuana public relations marketing


In the recent election, two more states and Washington D.C. legalized recreational marijuana. But it may still not be the right time to light up the pipe. Many once promising careers have been torpedoed by bad assumptions. In many cases, these assumptions boiled down to one single dumb idea: that, because something was “okay” on some level, it was suddenly okay unilaterally. Not so, people. Not so at all.

Take, for example, the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado. While the numbers in Colorado have been encouraging for those looking for legalization elsewhere, they’ve also provided rude awakenings both inside and outside the confines of the mile high state.

Many people from states bordering Colorado have crossed over to buy legal pot, only to get busted as soon as they cross state lines. Sure, you bought it legally, Cheech, but you still can’t have it where you live. While this idea should be self-evident, the basic logic of it seems to have flown away in all the “excitement” about the spread of legal weed. And that brings us to a potentially more understandable but, really, equally stupid mistake – believing the changing legal status of weed in your state makes it okay in your workplace.”

Businesses may be governed by the laws of the states, counties and municipalities in which they reside, but that does not mean they can’t ADD rules and regulations related to their particular business. If a business was a drug free workplace before November 4, it very likely still is, despite what changed in your state’s law.

“Mark my words. In the very near future you will hear about someone getting canned and, on their way out the door, they will say, ‘Wait, isn’t it legal?’ “, says leading attorney Martin Russo.

Worse, no matter what the legal status is, depending on your industry, the cultural status may not have shifted. While it’s understood that professional musicians and other entertainers might toke up, you don’t want your lawyer being high in court or your surgeon operating while buzzed in the ER. Those are extreme examples, but what about a mid-level manager, whose handling of the quarterly reports impacts your bonus?

Or the HR professional that could have found you a better medical plan…in these, and countless other professions, when it comes to PR, perception matters. Sometimes more than the law.

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