Tech Workers Fuel San Jose Medical Marijuana Scene, Employers Give Up on Drug Screening

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It was only a few years ago that spooked-out city leaders in San Jose declared that medical marijuana dispensaries had taken over their town. Today, there are still more than 100 dispensaries in the South Bay city, many more than are in San Francisco and the East Bay combined. And they’re thriving, with no small thanks to the ever-burgeoning technology industry.

Dispensaries big and small do fine business within smoking distance of some of high-tech’s biggest names, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. And while most firms have strict policies against drug use — all drug use — coders with cramped wrists make up to 40 percent of some dispensaries’ patient bases. Maybe that’s why the likes of Adobe, Cisco. and others have given up on pre-employment drug screening — it’s too hard to find someone who is clean.

In many ways, it makes nothing but sense: Silicon Valley is the region’s employment hub, with some of the biggest companies headquartered there. So there’s a steady stream of commuter traffic, and some of it is coming from places like San Mateo County, where there are no medical cannabis dispensaries.

There may be a culture of cannabis use among technology workers — just as there may be among bus drivers, schoolteachers and police officers — and while the practice isn’t officially condoned by employers, they’re also waving the white flag. Cisco and Adobe have stopped pre-employment drug screening, Bloomberg reported, and this is a growing trend elsewhere, according to Barry Sample, director of science and technology for Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions.

Not everyone is thrilled about this. San Jose’s estimated 106 medical marijuana clubs are “many more than are necessary to meet the medical needs of our population,” according to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. That’s probably the point — commuters are being served by the dispensaries in San Jose, and the additional dispensaries in Santa Clara, where for a time some of the region’s largest dispensaries operated.

You may also recall that San Jose briefly flirted with the idea of banning dispensaries, shortly after the city decided it was much better to tax them. Perhaps there is the lesson: Productivity rules everything around us, and if the cash and code are flowing, there’s no need to stop it.

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