Weed in the workplace: Cannabis education offers employees intriguing insights

Cannabis leaf on keyboard weed in the workplace

Cannabis is becoming increasingly normalized, and stigmas are eroding following reform across the country. Thirty-eight states have some form of legal marijuana, while 88 percent of Americans favor medical and/or adult-use legalization.

When it comes to weed in the workplace, attitudes are also shifting. According to a recent poll of cannabis consumers by Ayr Wellness, 40 percent of respondents planned to take the high holiday of 4/20 off this year. Additionally, more companies are adjusting policies around medical cannabis use and drug testing. 

Some businesses even educate their employees on the plant and its potential benefits as cannabis becomes more mainstream. This reporter was in attendance at one such event hosted by the parent company of GreenState. While the event did play host to advertisers, there was no request for coverage. GreenState chose to write about it because of the trend in workplace attitudes.

Cannabis lunch-and-learn puts the plant front and center in corporate setting

The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper recently held a cannabis lunch-and-learn event in their office. Vertically-integrated brand Natura and hemp-based products company Hempacco were on hand to share information and hand out non-infused samples. 

Last Prisoner Project, a non-profit dedicated to freeing the 40,000 individuals still incarcerated for cannabis crimes, was also present. Luke Scarmazzo, a medical cannabis operator recently released from a California prison after 15 years, shared his story while Chronicle staff listened in.

Luke Scarmazzo addresses Chronicle staff - weed in the workplace
Freed cannabis prisoner Luke Scarmazzo addresses Chronicle staff

The event allowed consumers and non-consumers alike to gain insight into cannabis and see how prohibition has affected people in their communities. 

Steve Weimer, VP of Classifieds at the Chronicle, does not consume cannabis but wanted to attend the event to show his support. He was touched by Scarmazzo’s tale and surprised to learn about his plight.

“I thought it was a very moving story—the fact that the poor guy was incarcerated for 15 years for really doing nothing of any harm to anybody,” Weimer told GreenState. “I didn’t realize that the feds had that opportunity to go in and trump the state law for something that was a legal business.”

Lynda Black, a digital campaign specialist, hoped to learn more about the possible health benefits of cannabis at the event. Another non-consumer, Black has seen firsthand the plant’s potential for both people and animals.

She recalled how CBD had helped an elderly dog in her family who struggled to walk due to joint pain.

“He was like a new dog,” Black exclaimed. “I was gobsmacked. It was an amazing transition. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, if this is what it does for dogs, imagine what it might do for humans.’”

Black also spoke of a niece who found success with CBD for sleep, piquing her curiosity further.

“I think there are a lot of products out there that are beneficial, and I’m interested in them,” she said. “I haven’t used those products yet, but I’m definitely open to it.”

Chronicle staff examine products from Hempacco - weed in the workplace
Chronicle staff examine vendor offerings at the recent cannabis education event

“There’s nothing to be lost by educating people on the benefits of anything…”

The lunch-and-learn was especially impactful for Alicia Jernigan, a strategic account executive who organized the event, along with Rose Fulton, president at 46Mile, Hearst’s marketing and advertising division. She grew up in the legacy market and was proud to see cannabis front and center at her place of work.

“As a legacy daughter of a Prop 215 co-op farmer of over 20 years, I have been in the cannabis industry most of my life. I cannot understate how much it means to speak freely about our past and have the full support of the company,” Jernigan said.

The decision to hold a cannabis event at the office of a non-industry company is yet another example of the growing acceptance of the plant. 

“We do wine events, so you know, why not?” Weimer quipped, adding that the opportunity to gain a bit of knowledge is always a positive.

“There’s nothing to be lost by educating people on the benefits of anything, whether it’s cannabis or any other type of drug that’s out there that can help people.”


rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter