More than one-third of programmers admit to cannabis use during work hours to boost creativity, work performance, and enjoyment, according to a recent study by the University of Michigan, published by Cornell University, in January. 

Cannabis and the Pandemic

Since March 2020, people have been turning to cannabis to relieve anxiety, depression, and stress that may be directly affected by lock-down and other coronavirus policies set in place for public safety.  It’s no surprise that some Americans have even replaced alcohol and pharmaceuticals with marijuana during these trying times due to its stress-relieving properties. 

Study Motivation

Hashing it Out: A Survey of Programmers’ Cannabis Usage, Perception, and Motivation is the first large-scale study of its kind. Researchers surveyed 803 programmers to ask about marijuana use during work hours.  The motivation behind the research stems from recent hiring shortages among the software programming profession. 

The question was this: With an average salary of around USD 60,000, are commonly-practiced drug testing policies contributing to hiring shortages among software programmers? 

Research Statistics

The study found that one-third of software programmers are using cannabis while working.  Here are the statistics: 

  • Thirty-five percent of survey participants have tried cannabis while programming or completing a similar task— 73 percent in the last year. 
  • Fifty-three percent have used it at least twelve times.
  • Twenty-seven percent have used it at least twice a week.
  •  Four percent admit to cannabis use daily.
  • The four main tasks completed while using cannabis: brainstorming, coding, prototyping, and testing.

Why do Programmers use Weed? 

As mentioned previously, brainstorming, coding, prototyping, and testing are the tasks predominately completed by programmers while using marijuana. 

 Let’s break that down further:

  • Sixty-one percent used it for enjoyment while completing work-related tasks.
  • Fifty-three percent tried cannabis for performance enhancement purposes.
  • Thirty percent mention wellness as their reasoning for marijuana use.

What about Programmers that don’t use Cannabis? 

While not all surveyors used cannabis, basically all of them support reform.  According to this study, 91 percent said it should be legalized medically and recreationally.  This is quite a jump compared to the 60 percent who supported legalization nationwide in 2021 and proves that marijuana reform is a significant interest among U.S. citizens. 

Did the Study Include Other Professions? 

Yes.  The study showed that cannabis use is similar during work tasks for programming employees, managers, and students.  This research dramatically supports that drug testing policies may need significant reform within the tech industry in 2022. 

Do Programmers in the Cannabis Industry Also Use Marijuana While Working?

While it’s a common misconception that all programmers in the cannabis industry use marijuana while working, the reality is that many approach their jobs in a professional manner. With a variety of cannabis industry jobs available, it’s important for programmers to prioritize their work and maintain a clear mind while coding.

Federal Reform & the Current Administration

Drug test policies are a popular topic for 2022.  The New York Department of Labor has said they will no longer drug test employees for cannabis following the state’s recent legalization efforts.  Amazon has also joined in, stating they would even retroactively restore employee eligibility for those fired due to marijuana showing up during a drug test.  

The Office of Personnel Management has agreed that past cannabis use should not disqualify an employee from being hired.  House and Senate lawmakers also adjusted their policies in July and October last year.  However, the Biden administration has recently been accused of punishing staff members for admitting to past cannabis use.  The press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that none of these staffers were fired but refused to detail the punishment.  


Cannabis use is on the rise in the United States and is prompting lawmakers and researchers to look into current drug-related policies.  With research results like this from the University of Michigan, we should see more research and policy changes in 2022 and the coming years.  Many in the marijuana industry hope that these types of studies will ultimately result in decriminalization and legalization on a federal level.

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