Restaurant, Hotel Workers Most Likely To Use Marijuana, Survey Says

By Keri Blakinger 04/16/18

More than 30% of food service workers in Colorado use marijuana, according to a new study. 

Two waiters in black and white uniforms preparing for service

Restaurant workers smoke a lot of pot, according to a new study. 

The newly released study of marijuana use in Colorado found that just over 30% of food service and hotel employees in the state use cannabis—more than in any other industry.

Those in the fields of arts and entertainment came in a close second with nearly 28% admitting to past-month pot use. 

In all other professions surveyed, fewer than 6% of workers said they’d recently smoked marijuana. 

The data comes from a 2014-2015 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment survey that aimed to figure out how pot use in different portions of the workforce could impact public health messaging. 

In November 2012, Colorado became one of the first U.S. states to legalize weed for recreational use.

“Employers and safety professionals in states where marijuana use is legal have expressed concerns about potential increases in occupational injuries, such as on-the-job motor vehicle crashes, related to employee impairment,” researchers wrote.

More than 1 in 8 adults in Colorado use marijuana, according to the state’s survey that was conducted in 2014 and 2015. The industry- and occupation-specific findings were published this month in the Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Among the less indica-inclined industries were oil and gas and utilities.

“Reported current use of marijuana was lower in industries that are known to perform routine drug testing on employees such as the Healthcare and Social Assistance (7.4%); Utilities (5.8%); and Mining, Oil, and Gas industries (5.2%),” the researchers wrote. Just 5.8% of people working in education said they partake.

Overall, about 15% of workers said they used marijuana in the past month.

Researchers highlighted a few possibilities to explain the variation from industry to industry. For one, some industries—like oil and gas—make ample use of mandatory drug testing. Other industries—like food service—may see more pot use because they tend to attract younger workers.

The survey also broke the data down by age, race and gender. Not surprisingly, the 18 to 25 age group had the highest percentage of pot users—just under 30%. Men toked the green stuff a little more than women, and Hispanics and whites leaned a little more pro- than others.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.