On Jan. 1, 2018, California, as well as several other states, will officially roll out the green carpet for the buying of recreational marijuana. This is a day many have eagerly awaited ever since their states voted to change the laws.
As a prosecutor, I view the upcoming green flash of activity that will accompany the new laws from both practical and public safety perspectives. Will more people drive while high? Can you lunch on marijuana edibles at work? How will adults prevent children from sneaking one of those delicious looking top-shelf-in-the-kitchen cookies stamped with a pretty green leaf?
In light of practical reflections like these, the question facing residents in the newest states to go green is: now that recreational marijuana is legal, should you indulge? Here are a few things to consider.
High Noon at the Office? Employers Take the High Road
As the green revolution continues to sweep the nation, some employees are tempted to indulge in a more relaxing kind of smoke break. Can they? It depends on where they work.
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Accordingly, federal employees are subjected to federal restrictions on marijuana use. Yet all companies have a vested interest in maintaining a safe workplace, particularly in professions where precision and alertness are a part of job responsibility.
And employees do not have to work as air traffic controllers or lifeguards for employers to be concerned about how marijuana use might impact job performance. Many occupations and activities require mental and physical acuity. Just because you are not intoxicated does not mean you are not impaired.
Employers, for the most part, are permitted to set reasonable employee standards of conduct. Many companies drug test employees, and prohibit marijuana use on the job. Yet what about before work or on breaks? Expect new policies and procedures to provide clarification and address practical questions raised by the new law.
Pot Brownies at the Potluck: A Case of Mistaken Identity
Maybe you can smell marijuana a mile away. Not everyone has that olfactory acuity. So if you have not decided whether your neighborhood party potluck contribution this year is going to be pot roast or pot brownies, think this through carefully.
If you decide to bake a batch of loaded stash, unless you decorate each one with a bright neon green marijuana leaf, some fellow partygoers with less distinguishing palates will not be able to tell the difference — until they begin to experience the effects. The consequences for you might be serious, depending on the reaction and response of the accidental consumer.
Your Precious Little Cookie Thieves Can't Tell the Difference
It is not only adults who cannot visually distinguish spiked goods from their virgin counterparts. And a pretty green leaf stamped on every cookie in the jar will not deter a child looking for a treat. Even in states like Colorado, which requires marijuana products to carry a universal THC symbol stamped on each 10-milligram standard serving, those letters mean nothing to your three year old.
Not Your Mother´s Pot
Infusing all of these issues, is the danger that new marijuana users may not appreciate the extent to which the THC content in marijuana has increased over the years. This is not the pot of the 1970s. Without this appreciation, there is a danger of accidental overindulgence — the consequences of which are not limited to the workplace. Impaired mental and physical abilities can impact daily activities such as caring for children, performing manual labor, and making important financial decisions.
Wait Until the Smoke Clears
As with the legalization of any mind-altering substance, the medical community continues to provide guidance, and the legal community continues to provide guidelines regarding safe, legal usage of marijuana, on and off the clock.
Here is some free legal advice: read up before lighting up.
Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 2,500 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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