• Mike Hughes

Are we "Up in smoke"?

Are restaurant workers “up in smoke”?

I was flipping through internet news yesterday and saw a headline about Pot usage and Adult workers in various industries.

It was a 2015 study in Colorado that questioned 10,000 workers if they used Marijuana in the last 30 days.

14.6 % of those 10,000 answered yes, while 33% of restaurant industry workers answered yes.

Note the age of the respondents was the big variant with the 18 to 25 age group being the highest percentage of yes answers.

Keep in mind that this is Colorado, where you would have the best chance of getting people to admit getting high. Whereas in any state USA, your typical restaurant worker will not deny smoking weed, as this practice has been an industry standard for generations.

So my first thought was…No shit. If you have spent your life in this business, there is zero surprise value in this “revelation”…

But it does get me thinking…Why us?

My initial thoughts go to the fact that most restaurant workers arrive in this business in their teens, where smoking Pot is “normal”. Then these same workers stay in this business for years…Decades…For many, the lifestyle of smoking Pot stays with us. Sure, we change, grow up, have families and responsibilities, but somehow and many times, the rolling of a joint, or bong rip stays part of our lifestyle.

Restaurant workers historically work hard and play hard. Our industry is rooted in entertainment and night life…That is why so many of us are drunks. It is what is around us, and the friends we make over the years all have the common badges of industry work.

So, do we “deserve” the label as THE pot using industry?

Are we proud of it? Are we ashamed sometimes? Stereotyped on occasion?

Maybe all the above…You see, when you are deeply involved with this culture, it becomes your normal.

Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, in my first few BOH positions, we smoked all day, every day…All the while cranking out high volume madness. Looking back, I couldn’t even tell you if the product we were pumping out was high quality stuff, as it seems like in 2018, there isn’t very many things you can do high that would be considered “your best work”. If you were alive and working in the 70’s and 80’s, there was a thing that happened to pot. You ran out and couldn’t find any. It was called being DRY. Yup, running out of pot happened all the time and nowhere turned any up. Imagine that today? We used to bum out pretty bad if we weren’t torching all day long… Things in 2018 are not anything like things in 1980. The pot smoking landscape has changed…Some for the better, and some for the worse.

Why you ask? For one thing, the weed available today is light years better than the dirt shit Mexican of the 70’s…Just trust me on this if you’re under 30. The technology is crazy today…I’m frankly afraid of today’s weed! The thought of showing up to work on today’s high test has me literally crawling into a corner in a fetal position just with the thought of it.

Then there is drug testing…40 years ago it wasn’t a thing…Today, many companies test everyone…Try to find a dish guy who doesn’t smoke…There may be 2 or 3.

So now in addition to amazing quality, it is tough to find a job, mom and pop aside, that doesn’t test you.

How about workers comp claims? Cut yourself badly, you get tested…You fail, you’re screwed…It does not create a safer working environment. I first started working in restaurants and smoking weed around the same time…That was when getting caught could mean getting arrested and jailed. In fact, it was practically a given. So we would sneak away and make it happen, but we also surrounded ourselves with like minded souls as there is strength in numbers…With legalization spreading like wild fire, there is a whole new problem…Hey, man, it’s legal…So I can smoke wherever and whenever! Well until the feds warm up to it and companies give in to smoking on your 15 minute break, then chill for a minute on smoking before and during your shift.

Many anti-pot groups call Marijuana a gateway drug to other drugs.

Is it a gateway drug? Yeah it is…It is most people’s first drug. Anyone who has moved on to any of the dozens of drugs used today would be hard pressed to deny that weed started them on the journey of perpetual intoxication.

I used to find burned heroin spoons in the employee bathroom in one place I managed…I’d bet a million dollars that person’s first drug was pot. Or the crack pipe “hidden” in the break room…They started by smoking something else. How about the physical characteristics of one of your employees who you can see dramatically change over the course of months until they are barely recognizable…Methamphetamine has a way of doing that to you.…So in summary, if you are one of the millions of pot smokers who’s first drug was smoking pot, and you then at some point snorted coke, or dropped acid, or dabbled in speed, or prescription pain pills, or meth, or heroin, or alcohol, then you are part of the definition of what a gateway drug is.

Now you may think that I am moving this story into the anti pot zone. I am not. I support legalization. I think that if used responsibly and for the right medical reasons, it is a positive thing. I just think that the days of lighting up before you write your prep list are ancient history.

So if you are in the restaurant business and smoke weed regularly, you are not alone…Join the club…Have at it…Just don’t do it in my restaurant.



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