Nine years ago this month, Steamboat Springs’ first retail marijuana establishment began selling legal recreational weed to adults over the age of 21. The experts argue that the rising prevalence, potency, and perceived normality of usage may now be having an impact on the workplace.
According to Ben Cort, CEO of the Foundry Treatment Center in Steamboat and a consultant in the fields of treatment and prevention, workers who are high on the job are a pervasive and serious problem across the country. Accidents, injuries, and subpar productivity are just some of the outcomes that he mentioned may occur if people came to the office high on marijuana.
According to Cort, the potency of the marijuana available in stores today is far more than it was twenty or thirty years ago, which is a major factor in employees working while impaired.
In 1996, the average concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient in marijuana that causes its psychoactive effects, was less than 5%. He noted that today in Colorado, 30% THC is typical and that some extremely potent concentrates have THC levels as high as 98%.
The most pressing issue is recruiting a drug-free labor force. According to “Weed, Inc.: The Truth About the Pot Lobby, THC, and the Commercial Marijuana Industry,” written by Cort in 2017, “we are having absolutely the highest record consumption rate that the country has ever seen.”
Tobacco use has decreased while marijuana use has increased, according to surveys conducted in late 2022, and according to Cort, the highest rates of marijuana use are seen in those between the ages of 24 and 32.
It’s not just at work; it’s in the classroom and in home. Court remarked, “As usage increases, so does the frequency with which issues arise.”
According to Cort, the perceived risk of consuming cannabis is at an all-time low. He went on to explain that when the risk of using any substance rises, its actual use typically falls.
Court noted that even though cannabis usage is rising, the perceived risk is at an all-time low.
An increase in cannabis potency has been linked to a rise in both addiction and medical emergencies. He estimated that the current rate of marijuana addiction was around 30%, up from the historical average of 10% or less.
We’re not smoking pot. We’re employing unnaturally large doses of THC in the form of highly concentrated forms,” Cort explained. According to the author, “it does incredibly severe things to the human brain and body, and there is a large industry behind it.”
According to Dr. Laura Sehnert, emergency medicine physician, and chief medical officer at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, patients continue to visit the hospital’s emergency department as a result of increased use, greater strength, and accidental consumption.
Paranoia, anxiety, visual or auditory hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, arrhythmia, and increased heart rate are just some of the accidental adverse reactions seen frequently at the hospital, Sehnert noted.
Inadvertent ingestion is the leading cause of emergency room visits related to marijuana, according to the doctor.
This may happen to anyone, from infants to the elderly, when edible cannabis products are mistaken for edibles. Although cannabis edible packaging has become more transparent in recent years, Sehnert reminds consumers to treat cannabis edibles like they would any other drug.
It should be stored where children cannot access it. Keep it in its original packaging for storage. Do not keep it in the fridge or freezer, and keep it locked away,” suggested Sehnert.
Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or intense episodes of vomiting, is another leading cause of admissions to emergency rooms, especially among both “marijuana naive” patients who experience unexpected reactions due to greater concentrations and habitual cannabis users.
Sehnert claims that digestive system receptors that respond to marijuana are to blame for the vomiting cycles.
Since vomiting episodes might persist with prolonged marijuana use, Sehnert said, “My recommendation, like any substance, if you are a chronic daily user and find yourself displaying signs of addiction and using more frequently, consider whether or not you should quit.”
Cort, who is currently working on a second book titled “Weed, Incd,” educates thousands of people each year about the dangers associated with marijuana use. Just last week, he spoke to the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office about the latest marijuana trends in the state and the relative potency of different strains.
I advise companies that any kind of intoxication is not tolerated at work, Cort stated.