Cannabis and Employment
Cannabis and Employment

Social Services Stigma - Cannabis and Employment Programs

How Cannabis users get thrown into the cracks of our anti-poverty and employment programs

Posted by:
Thom Baccus on Friday May 6, 2016


Cannabis and Social Services - Why The Stigma Must End from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


I am taking a pill called Strattera for ADD because in America if you aren’t taking a pill for your problem you aren’t dealing with your problem.  To be fair, I live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal and have prescription to use it for chronic pain.  Cannabis has been used as a treatment for adult ADD in Europe.  Even if those studies had adherents here, they would not be able to treat a chronically employable recipient of state services; because state services are funded by federal money and the executive order which basically tells the DEA and IRS to respect state laws with regards to legal cannabis does not extend to: the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, HUD, or USDA.  Even where it is legal, it is still not legal if you are poor.


Selling articles online is about the best case scenario for me.  You wouldn’t want to be in my workplace any more than I would want to be there.  On my best days I am a bumbling safety hazard and a socially awkward moment waiting to happen; on my worst I am an explosively angry paranoid misanthrope.  The longer I am on a job the more worst days I have.  Not all of these issues are related to the ADD; not all problems can be solved with a pill.  But if you aren’t using every pill that might help (because you have found a safer way to manage: thought overload, explosive anger, extreme thoughts of dangerous behavior) you won’t be eligible for disability.


Even in states that don’t drug test those who need to use anti-poverty services, the simple fact that federal money is involved disconnects the poor from the benefits of medicinal cannabis.  Except at the VA, doctors who receive federal payments can’t acknowledge cannabis’s medical benefits nor prescribe it.  I know of no federal or private program that covers a patient’s medical cannabis costs.  Here in Oregon growers would donate a portion of their crop to the patients they grew for and make back their time, labor, and expense selling to the dispensaries.  New regulations have made the larger collectives less viable and made it harder for patients who can’t grow (as most renters and all HUD occupants cannot) to find the medicine they need.  


It is illegal to bring your medicine on any public transit as they are all nominally DoT regulated.  


It is illegal to use medical cannabis in public housing; no matter how tolerant your state agency and property managers are, you are one federal inspection away from the boot.  



Even local courts in the most cannabis friendly county of the most cannabis friendly state (Multnomah County; Oregon) do not recognize employment in a legal cannabis industry as legitimate employment for meeting court obligations.  I could sell 20 articles a month; but I still wouldn’t have a real job as far as they are concerned.  


Vocational Rehabilitation can’t consider you as seeking structural employment if you have a medical cannabis prescription.


There is little to no movement in legal states to improve testing to detect intoxication rather than metabolization; or to even encourage employers to move from urine testing that detects up to 6 weeks out, to mouth swabs, which only test positive if the use has been within three days.


Also know that all these programs are suffering budget cuts.  Welfare was gutted by the first Clinton administration.  Like then, a GOP congress has forced Obama to cut housing programs and nutritional programs.  I don’t believe either of the two likely major party candidates will make it easier for adults dealing with poverty to medicate (let alone just relax) with cannabis.  Because of that I will not endorse either major party candidate.  I will vote for the candidate that is most likely to make sure people in need can get jobs, and benefits when jobs can’t be found but I will not endorse anyone but the person I have already endorsed as a volunteer, as a donor, and as a writer.


I do not like taking a pill.  I live in fear of double dosing because I am ADD and sometimes I forget to do things other times I forget I already did things.  If I use the pills though, and I still can’t function in the workforce; I want to know the programs that wouldn’t help me as a pothead will be there to function as a safety net.  If I can’t have the better world I fought for at least don’t make it worse.








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