By a 3-to-1 margin, Americans polled recently by Huffington Post / YouGov stated that the use of marijuana by adults in a state where marijuana is legal should not be the basis for firing an employee.

Almost two-thirds of poll respondents -- 64% -- found it unacceptable to fire a marijuana user solely for after-hours pot smoking. Those who found it acceptable numbered only 22%, with 14% in the “not sure” category. Thus, for every person who thinks it is okay to fire a pot smoker, there are nearly three who find it unacceptable.

Even when the qualifier of “in a legal marijuana state” is removed from the question of whether it is acceptable to fire people for off-the-clock pot use, more people found it unacceptable than acceptable. A plurality of 45% said the cannabis consumers should be able to keep their jobs, even if marijuana use is illegal, compared to the 32% who think it is okay to fire a pot smoker in a prohibition state, and 23% were “not sure.”

The poll results for firing pot smokers in illegal states flips when we look only at Republican respondents. A plurality of Republicans -- 41% -- would allow the firing of cannabis consumers, with less than a third -- 32% -- who would protect pot smokers’ jobs. However, when pollsters add “in a legal marijuana state,” even Republicans are against the termination of workers for their legal marijuana use, at nearly the same margins as the general population. Fully 62% of Republicans would find it unacceptable to fire a toker in Washington or Colorado or any state that legalizes, with just over a quarter -- 27% -- who support firing employees for legal pot use.

Broken down by age groups, every demographic found majorities in support of protecting employment rights for cannabis consumers in legal states, with middle-aged people (45 to 64 years old) support at a 4-to-1 margin, as 73% found firing unacceptable versus 18 percent who didn’t.

The poll reached similar conclusions when asked if people should be fired for their after-hours use of alcohol, with the same 64% to 22% majority finding it unacceptable to fire drinkers. It appears that all this time, drug testing and firing employees was really more about cultural acceptability and legality than it ever was about workplace safety and productivity.

Who knew?
 
"Radical" Russ Belville is the host of The Russ Belville Show, which airs live at 3pm Pacific.