Keeping in mind that I was always completely sober at work, do you think using marijuana on my own time made me an inept employee?
You be the judge:
On and off during my career in the news, I used marijuana in my free time. I started my professional career as a paid intern for a news station in Seattle when I was 21, and left with high regards and several references.
I went on to attend my senior year at the University of Oregon’s College of Journalism and Communications. That year, I was in charge of the school’s only weekly television news program, DuckTV News. As a producer, I was responsible for co-instructing a class of 15 to 25 of my peers, leading an editorial meeting and developing the weekly newscast centered around campus life.
I got my first on-air reporting job when I was 22 and still finishing up my senior year of college. I had been applying for jobs that spring when my teacher and mentor (the head of the broadcast news program at U of O) received a call from the news director of a local station. He asked her if there were any students she’d recommend for their open reporter position and without hesitation she said, “Cyd Dutcher.” There were several other students who would have jumped at the opportunity, but she chose me. She gave me a stellar reference, I got the interview and was quickly hired.
During that first year of reporting I was promoted from the Roseburg Bureau position to reporting in Eugene within five months. Just weeks after that, I was filling-in at the anchor desk. It was tough work and I was making just $11.25 an hour, but I always tried my best.
After exactly one year at that job, my station was sold to new owners. Nearly the entire news staff was laid off, including myself, but I bounced back quickly.
I landed an anchoring position in less than two months at another station in town. Starting in August 2013, I worked there for one year and nine months. I worked hard, Wednesdays through Sundays, still making very little money ($12 an hour the first year, $13 an hour the second). During the week, I produced and reported for the nightly newscast. Each Saturday and Sunday morning I started my workday at 3:00am and was responsible for producing and editing a newscast, then anchoring it by myself at 8:00am.
I never once overslept or missed out on work, but what I did miss out on were holidays, family reunions, parties, dates, vacations, baby showers… All for an incredibly stressful job that devalued me.
The day I was forced to take a drug test, I was honest with my immediate supervisors about my marijuana use. Since they knew me, trusted me, and wanted to keep me on the team, it wasn’t immediately clear what was going to happen with my job. In the end, it was out of their hands. The decision to fire me came from a corporate attorney, who had never even met me.
Alcohol use outside of work can easily affects a person’s job performance, yet it is acceptable for employees to not only drink during their free time, but also to frequently talk about their drinking antics around the office.
Marijuana use, also outside of work, never negatively impacted my job performance. Marijuana doesn’t come with a hangover. Marijuana doesn’t damage my brain. Marijuana doesn’t make me hit my husband, or encourage me to make rash decisions. Yet my marijuana use alone was seen as reason enough for me to lose my job.
It’s time to stop the hypocrisy. If you’re okay with alcohol, there’s absolutely no reason you should have a problem with my marijuana use.