Study Confirms Cannabis Use Among Computer Programmers

Study Confirms Cannabis Use Among Computer Programmers


There has long been an inside joke among computer programmers that consuming cannabis on the job leads to better code. Well, that inside joke has now been proven true by a team of researchers at the University of Michigan. It turns out that cannabis consumption is widespread among computer programmers. Moreover, programmers use it for a variety of reasons.

University of Michigan researchers were prompted to conduct a study by ongoing drug testing policies that might be making it difficult for companies to hire qualified programmers. The researchers were well aware of anecdotal evidence suggesting widespread cannabis use within the industry. They wanted to confirm that evidence and see if there were any correlations between it and persistent hiring shortages.

More Than One-Third

Researchers surveyed just over 800 software developers to learn their cannabis consumption habits. What they found was interesting, to say the least. According to the numbers:

  • 35% have used cannabis “while programming or completing another software engineering -related task.”
  • 53% have “consumed cannabis while programming at least 12 times.”
  • 27% admit to using cannabis at least two times per week.
  • 4% admit to using cannabis at work either daily or nearly every day.

At the very least, the research shows that more than half of all computer programmers have used cannabis while working. It turns out that the inside joke among programmers is really no joke at all. It is reality. As for why so many computer programmers use the drug, health and well-being is not at the top of the list.

Why They Consume Cannabis

Researchers discovered that the number one reason for using cannabis at work is to make programming more enjoyable. Some 61% of the surveyed programmers cited it. In addition, 53% say that cannabis increases their creativity. Fewer than 30% said they use cannabis to improve their health and wellbeing.

Under the law, anyone using cannabis for a purpose other than approved medical use is consuming the drug recreationally. The distinction between medical and recreational use does not matter much in states that allow both. But it is a major distinction in states with medical-only programs. Utah is a good example.

Only with a Medical Cannabis Card

Consumers can only legally purchase cannabis in Utah with a valid medical cannabis card. Cannabis pharmacies like Provo’s Deseret Wellness are not allowed to serve customers we do not have valid cards. That being the case, Beehive State computer programmers can use cannabis on the job as long as it is for medical reasons and company policies do not prohibit it.

If a computer programmer’s employer chooses to conduct random drug testing in order to keep cannabis out of the workplace, state law allows it. Private employees are free to develop their own policies regarding drug use in the workplace. Not so for public employers – at least in Utah.

Putting the Squeeze on Hiring

When all is said and done, it is legitimate to ask if employer drug policies really are putting the squeeze on the computer programming industry. Are software developers refusing to apply with some companies because of drug policies? And if so, do employers truly have a compelling interest to keep cannabis out of the workplace?

As cannabis legalization has swept across the country, it has led to more questions than answers. Cannabis is so new to so many people that a lot of our institutions are having trouble keeping up. Cannabis use among computer programmers illustrates the point. That long-standing inside joke is true, and it could be contributing to the hiring shortage among companies desperate for qualified programmers.