During the great depression in America, Edward Bernays, the pioneer of public relations, came up with an innovative phrase – Torches of Freedom to pursue women to start smoking. The slogan was intertwined with the idea of feminism, economic distress, and equality. In 1929, during the Easter Sunday Parade, he hired women to smoke in a flashy fashion, to stir a media frenzy by violating the prohibition laws of women’s smoking in New York. Moreover, he manipulated the press to circulate those pictures with savvy tactics. In the last few years, do you recognize the same playbook is being played again? The use of federally prohibited substances is often promoted by the industry with misleading headlines, such as ‘studies show that the use of our product helps to reduce x,y,z symptoms‘. These research studies are often paid by the same industry in an attempt to market those products. The research articles are not peer-reviewed, and products are not FDA approved. Content creations with celebrities and influencers are common to confuse the general public about supplemental products containing toxic elements. Lobbying with millions of dollars for legalization of once banned products are pushing the success at an unprecedented scale at state levels. It might be beneficial for the criminal justice system reform in some aspects. However, the implications of such legalization for a job seeker is often not discussed.
Studies show that the number of Marijuana users is increasing at an alarming rate. In 2017, according to national studies, 38% of full-time college students aged 19-22 years used marijuana at least once in the prior 12 months. The idea is prevalent now it is safe to use Marijuana for anyone for recreational activities. For college students and early career professionals, the whole thing might be confusing. What is wrong about smoking weed when it is legalized in the state? Well, it starts in senior years. I have heard from undergrad students that they didn’t apply for jobs because of the fear of getting caught in drug tests. The case of marijuana is more critical which is still illegal by the federal government. Once used, any test within 6 months of using marijuana can detect trace chemicals. Even, while applying for internships, it requires drug tests in many companies and government offices. Companies that are already working without such obligations of testing may soon need to comply with those rules once their offices receive federal contracts. Lying to the government or companies about past uses of any illicit drugs can result in court cases and penalties. During the background checks, the office of personnel management (OPM) often sends letters to the people the candidate worked with and his/her neighbors, asking about alcohol and substance abuse along with personality questions. Anything related to security agencies where the role might be sensitive, the slightest hint of substance abuse in the last 1 to 3 years can seriously put anyone in trouble. In many heavy industries and research facilities, the safety of the personnel is taken very seriously. Uses of drugs and substances by employees can jeopardize the reputation and productivity of the industry badly.
No matter where you are graduated from or how good is your GPA, the use of drugs or Marijuana can complicate your future beyond the imagination. Even before taking part in any career counseling, meet your school officials or health professionals if you are inclined to addictions. The issue of career complications is not the end of the story. Now, we all know, how bad it is to smoke cigarettes. Torches of Freedom brought cancer, ulcer, heart attack, stroke and other debilitating health issues for generations, and, hence, it can better be termed as Torches of Failure. Don’t be the victim of the marketing tricks of our century so that someone else will write about you after 50 years as I did here.