by Jennifer F. Knight with cartoonery by Roldo

Do you think employees, whether those employees are medical marijuana patients or retail marijuana consumers, should have certain protections in the workplace without facing job loss and unemployment due to off-the-clock marijuana use?

Many companies across Colorado have drug testing programs in place for employees and job applicants wherein those who test positive for drug use, including the legalized use of marijuana, can be fired or denied from a job. In the states that have medical marijuana and the ones that have full legalization, there are not any corresponding laws at the state level that would establish workplace protections for those who get flagged in drug screens.

Mason Tvert is director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, an education and lobbying organization committed to ending marijuana prohibition based primarily in Washington D.C. In a 2015 interview with The Atlantic he said, “We expect the laws to catch up with the culture, and increasingly, employers are not going to want to fire employees for using marijuana off the job and then go through the process of hiring and training ... They will treat marijuana similarly to how they treat alcohol.”

I reached out to Tvert’s colleague, Chris Lindsey, legislative counsel, for an update on the issue at hand: Drug testing to achieve or maintain employment and the laws that govern it.

“I would say Mason is right, it’s a question of timing. And it does seem like we’re starting to see that change,” Lindsey said. “I mean, there was a report recently that showed pre-screens in Colorado are going down, so there aren’t as many employers that are bothering with it.”

I asked Lindsey if drug testing falls under labor laws. “Drug testing is usually driven by federal policy, and it often shows up if you have a government contract that you rely on for any part of your business. (In that case) then probably the federal government has a requirement in the contract that says you must drug test your employees. These are typically in the form of zero-tolerance policies. Somebody screens them when they come in the door and then there are random screenings.”

What about [local government] employers like La Plata County in Colorado who are rumored to only drug-test applicants who will be operating company-owned vehicles as part of their employment?

“That’s a good policy, exactly the kind of policy we think should be in place,” Lindsey said.

While only testing the drivers of company-owned vehicles is a giant leap forward, it could still prove unfair to those driver/operators who have never been intoxicated behind the wheel. I can understand how an employer would want to make sure its employees aren’t impaired on the job – that’s fine, test for that.

The problem here is that the vast majority of employers are not usually testing for active THC, because those tests are comparatively more expensive, but they are available. Treat the employee who smokes pot on the clock no differently than you would treat the employee who drinks alcohol on the clock, but test for active use before taking away their chance to earn an honest living. I’m inclined to agree wholeheartedly with Lindsey and the Marijuana Policy Project on the issue at hand, “Don’t give us these drug tests that are more about a lifestyle choice.”

And for those applicants and employees who still choose to partake even though they are subject to pre-employment or random employee drug screens, head shops across Colorado offer several reasonably-priced products that are guaranteed to help you get or keep your job in the event of a drug screen. They also offer test kits for use at home, so you know if you’re in the clear before you show up for the real deal.

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George Bush volunteered for the first urine test and Nancy Reagan rode shotgun in the first battering ram attack on domestic soil. I wasn't there. Drugs must have been a particularly hideous problem back then.

"I believe our heavenly father created man because he was disappointed in the monkey." - Mark Twain


Psychotropic Programming

By Roldo

Early in 2018 I found a game on the internet that looked like it might be interesting. It was one of those “match three” games, which I was unfamiliar with, with a pseudo Aztec/Mayan theme. I gave it a try.

It kicked my ass so hard I felt sorry for its foot.

In three tries I failed to complete the first level within the allotted time. “Okay”, says my brain, “I can’t do that.” My mind replies, “Well, do think that you could learn?” and my brain says “Probably – I’m really smart and very adaptable.”

So I start playing this game every night, just at midnight. I consider it mental calisthenics, to limber up my brain for the night’s tasks. At first it's slow going but every night I get a bit further. By the end of the week I’m up to level five. I’ve found patterns in the game, ways to play it faster. Eventually I reach the seventh and final level and blow through it like a Spring breeze.

I keep this ritual up for another two weeks, steadily improving, and then I have an idea. Here we have an activity that my brain has just now learned – what would happen if I was to try playing this game after ingesting some Cannabis?

Whether that notion originated with my Inner Shrink or my Inner Stoner I cannot say. I’m not even certain that they’re not one and the same - or at least twins.

Fortunately since I keep a stock of good quality Cannabis on hand for just such necessities (and the occasional mental nudge that one sometimes requires) I was able to investigate the matter that very night. 

No sooner had Kepth-Ra begun his nocturnal shift than I had filled the pipe and in the fire of Weed my evening garment of sobriety was flung. I opened the game.

At first I was slow. Essentially, I felt my brain was saying “Aw no, man. This is a drag. Let’s listen to some Jefferson Airplane, or go get your guitar. C’mon – let’s boogie!” but I told it “no” and explained that we were going to conduct an experiment first – then we’d have some fun.

And it agreed. I began a second game. The Cannabis Affected - or Enhanced - Brain had assimilated the new information and I successfully played every level easily.

Now I hope to find another game that’s as challenging so I can reverse the process and find out how well the Unstoned Brain can accept data from the Stoned.

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[excerpt] ONE CRAZY STONER (published by Bathtub Books)

by Jennifer F. Knight with illustration by Roldo 

(introduction by Adam Gorightly)

Yer colorful Colorado correspondent here present had just served five troublesome days on a 72-hour hold for observation inside my local Nut-House when the strange notion to craft this dangerous proof of honest work in gonzo journalism finally began to take hold.

We, the uninsured subjects, were trapped inside a federally-funded mental health facility courtesy of a very special scholarship program. Stripped of all personal effects and locked up tight in a sterile construct full of doctors and nurses and bright lights and tricky puzzles and military flags and electroshock machinery.

But I should probably use the word 'electroconvulsive' here instead, because the hospital staff seemed rather serious about this small and subtle change to their language. Mental health professionals no longer wished to make use of the word 'electroshock' although this dangerous invention was still widely available back then. The year was 2014, a time when electroshock therapy could still be requested by a doctor and ordered by a judge to force clinical remedy upon a disenfranchised mental patient. Fortunately, that sort of legally-induced medical treatment was reserved for only the most severely maladjusted among us.

Judges hold more power than you and me, I suppose, because their gowns open to the front. I mean, they seem normal enough otherwise.

I fought my way through several brute-force attacks meant to break into the most treasured of my thinking parts over those five troublesome days, attacks which I can only assume were ordered at the behest of whatever faceless preternatural authority was actually in charge of the institution. I handled each situation to the best of my foggy-minded ability (in spite of the backless gown and slipper socks) thereby avoiding any potentially hazardous connection between my seemingly delicate temples and the community’s local power grid.

A little discretion goes a long way.

Prior to that fateful psychotic break, before my capture by ambulance and the mandatory incarceration for evaluation that followed, the better part of me was researching the journalistic work of Nellie Bly, daring author of Ten Days in a Mad-House

Coincidence? No.

Correlation? Maybe.

That crazy bitch feigned mental malady to get at the heart of her story, a twisted assignment, professional malingering for a major newspaper. Covert Operations for the love of her craft and I most certainly admired her for it. As far as I can tell, any working female journalist in the late nineteenth century was quite obviously insane. I mean, there were only a few probable explanations for such enigmatic behavior back then. I suppose one could have assumed that Nellie had fallen prey to some dark sort of incantation or maybe her chosen profession was simply a tragic result of that hideous illness known in the context of the times as Female Hysteria. Who knows. 

Thinking back to the interview portion of my mental health evaluation, I can remember asking the infamous Dr. Labcoat if beholding the crystal-clear voice of Hunter S. Thompson counted as an auditory hallucination.

If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up.

Then I referenced the beautiful mind of Dr. John Nash and asked Labcoat if he was planning to throw me a pen ceremony. He was not amused.

"Am I crazy?"

"No, Jennifer. You're not crazy."

G.B. Labcoat, Ph.D.

The honorable Dr. Labcoat prescribed several psychotropic medications and I ate them all, along with the stool softeners, because I wanted out. There was honest work to be done beyond those eggshell walls and I was anxious to escape them and assume my front line position in America's [doomed] War on [some] Drugs.

Diagnosis? Gravely Disabled.

Upon release from the institution, I was granted asylum by two strange men your noble narrator dubbed Hash Prophets (knights of the banana-shaped table). They were a couple of intelligent, music-loving stoners who'd been dug up and transplanted from Iowa, good and honest root-bound people now working like highly trained service dogs in Colorado's burgeoning [medical] marijuana industry.

Bloomberg referred to medical weed as a stalking horse. Is that true? What's a stalking horse?

The Hash Prophets were renting a two-story house on the north end of Colorado Springs with an elaborate hydroponic grow operation running like a wet-hot American dream in its basement, and they invited me to stay with them a while. I accepted this residency program, because it offered an otherwise impossible opportunity to study the decriminalization and eventual legalization of marijuana in the United States. I trusted them. We did science.

Given my newly manifested domestic situation (a mostly hassle-free set and setting in a town built for NORAD by Jesus and the feds) I was able to reach out to the editorial staff at the Marijuana Free Press and offer up some relatively valuable wordsmithing free of charge.

In other words, I got myself a non-paying job firing off random missives about freedom and discretion and dangerous drugs to a small and somewhat fragile audience for the love of independent American  journalism.

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Let's Play What If...

by J. Watson Zupdok (contributor)

What if there is only a finite amount of Intelligence in the Universe.  

What if there is a conscious entity or an unconscious force that distributes that Intelligence to our species, perhaps in at some point prior to birth.

What would be the more appropriate means of distribution – to give each individual the same amount or to provide some with a larger portion? I would say the latter. The first method would reduce humanity to a dim-witted and joyless herd whereas the second would provide problem solvers who could improve the lot of all.

Very few of these would be found among the celebrities and public figures that we admire and hold in esteem. Most of these have an enhanced amount of Luck but all too few display the interest in humanity that is the sign of true Intelligence and most of those who do advocate the same cliché solutions that have repeatedly failed in the past.

Now let us consider another possibility. What if there is an infinite supply of Intelligence. What if there is, locked in our brain, vast stores of Intelligence untapped and unused. Would not the only sensible attitude of a human be to actively gain access to that treasure for both their own and the collective benefit?

It doesn’t require an obsessive study of the current world situation to humanity is poised on a pivotal phase of its evolution and new potentials are waiting to be discovered and employed.