In early 2016, news outlets started lighting up with the acknowledgement of a handful of U.S. based companies that allowed, if not outright suggested, getting high on weed at work to help move past creative blocks that hindered productivity. The idea of the artist getting high to chase his or her muse is nothing new but the application of such socially controversial practices in the stoic workplace of modern America is jarring to the status quo. Undoubtedly, the first question on the lips of skeptics will be: does getting high to improve creativity and productivity actually work?
What Kind of Company Would Allow This?
The company getting the most press for its lax cannabis regulations in the office is Denver-based Flowhub
, who provide seed-to-sale software for clients in the cannabis industry. Like all of the other companies who have copped to allowing employees to get high on the clock, Flowhub is located in a state that has legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Despite what some may view as a radical approach to brainstorming techniques, the company is by the book about state regulations: while getting high is perfectly acceptable, smoking is not. Therefore, when the Flowhub team are looking for a bit of an extra push in the creative department, they often turn to edibles. Darren Roberts co-founded the cannabis-themed social network "High There!
" which also allows workers the option of getting high to get the creative juices flowing. He explained that he finds most inspiration-aids being imbibed near the end of the day when brainstorming activity is at its most frequent.
Getting High at Work Goes Beyond Creativity
Speaking recently to CNN
, sales executive Brandon David highlighted that workers aren’t turning to cannabis for creative inspiration alone. David claims that getting high on weed while working improves his focus, relaxes feelings of stress, and even adds to his longevity of quality work time. Since his company is based in California, a state that at the time of the interview had only legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, David declined to mention his company by name but reinforced that he was using cannabis for strictly medical reasons. He also added in reference to businesses that find benefit in allowing employees to get high on company time, “There definitely are far more that allow it than are willing to openly talk about it.”
The Science Behind Cannabis-Coaxed Creativity
Flowhub co-founder Kyle Sherman said of marijuana use in the workplace that “it definitely surfaces new ideas and a fresh take on things.” Cue socially-stoked skepticism and a fear that a workforce of stoners will destroy productivity. While getting high isn’t going to be the best innovation solution for everyone, the benefits of an artfully timed edible to creativity are actually supported by hard science. A 2011 study conducted by G. Schafer and associates of the University College London’s Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit and Research Department of Clinical, Health and Educational Psychology indicated that marijuana may aid in bridging concepts that, in a sober state, we often don't initially see as related. Such an application is vital in the creative processes and “outside-the-box” thinking so valued by forward-thinking businesses.
But What About the… What Were We Talking About?
The often-ridiculed effects of THC on memory may seem to pose a potential pitfall to getting high during company brainstorming sessions with stoned employees left struggling to recall their revelations. However, the companies pioneering these creative approaches have not come forward with any issues pertaining to short term memory loss. Some experts
have posited that due to the endocannabinoid system’s authority in the creation of memories, marijuana may actually improve memory in acting as a strict filter as to what is deemed the most useful information for the brain.
UPDATE: Finding the Correlation Between Creativity and Cannabis
Which came first: the creativity or the cannabis? While we're still waiting on a definitive study to prove that using marijuana can set the creative juices flowing, a November 2017 study
conducted by Emily M. LaFrance and Carrie Cuttler of the Washington State University Department of Psychology found a distinct correlation between people deemed creative and the use of cannabis. The testing was only conducted on subjects who were sober at the time and found that cannabis users were more likely to profess artistic pursuits than those who refrained from use. The admitted cannabis users were also more adept at solving psychological problems using creative solutions. While the research team ultimately concluded that the use of cannabis had more to do with the open-mindedness of people drawn to creativity than cannabis inspiring creativity,
Of course there are other nagging questions weighing the pros and cons of getting high on the job. Is such liberty in the workplace too much too soon for a country that’s just beginning to publicly admit that it actually really
likes marijuana? Is a recreational drug’s sanctity threatened by incorporating it into the almighty work week, still often viewed as a 60-hour, self-flagellating, nigh-religious genuflection to the holy dollar? These may be tough questions to throw at the feet of a country with 2-drink limit lunch breaks and a drug class system that holds marijuana as a greater threat than cocaine. Chances are, we’re not going to be seeing a corporate renaissance of cannabis-stoked brainstorming sessions anytime soon. But in a “he who dares, wins” business world, ambitious businesses that allow their employees to get high may be the ones with the winning edge.